White Space

By Naazish YarKhan

Blank space….I never look at the screen before me as white space needing to be filled. It’s much the opposite, most times. It’s too many thoughts whizzing around, needing to be downloaded, offloaded, shared. Summer is ending and school will be back in session next week. It’s all come to an end much too quickly. With me working, it wasn’t too many days that were free to do with as I pleased. That’s not to say the kids haven’t had a great summer. They’ve spent hours and hours playing or riding bikes. They had sleepovers with friends and spent time at their grand-parents. I had, however, wanted to drive down to nearby Wisconsin, have the kids experience the Dells – one big town, made up of water parks galore. But four years ago, we skipped all that and went further north into this state of cows and cheese to Door County. That was easily one of our best vacations and I wonder how the summer has slipped by without us making the time to visit there. Neither did we go camping. Still, there are 10 days or so left. Maybe fewer. I wonder if summer time is a microcosm of life. Blink and its gone.

But summer is far more relaxed that the school year. Although I do get a bunch of hours all to myself in the school year, with swimming, Arabic and homework, it does get very tight. Still, Taskeen who is nine, did take her first dives into the high end of the pool, on her last day of swimming lessons last month. I wouldn’t want to compromise her learning, just when she’s getting to be a stronger swimmer. This past year was the first time she took swimming lessons. They began in fall, and went on through bitter cold temperatures in winter. I didn’t think it was possible. It is an indoor pool but wouldn’t it be freezing when they stepped out to get to the car, I had wondered. But it wasn’t bad. In fact we did it and I don’t remember it being miserable. Another lesson learned about assumptions.

Talking of lessons, I’ve been reading two books that I loved. One is ‘Cracking the Millionaire Code’ (www.crackingthemillionairecode.com) and the other is ‘The Secret’
( www.thesecret.tv). Both tie financial success in this world, to success as a person of faith. Both emphasis consistent gratitude to God, regular charity from one’s earnings, asking God to show us the way, prayers and meditation first thing in the morning, exercise and working for a win-win situation for all those involved, as keys to material success. Both look at money as stepping stones to improving the lot of humanity, for example, as evident in the actions of Bill Gates.

‘The Secret’ is all about attracting more of that which you think of. For instance, why do we suddenly start seeing cars similar to the one we just bought, all over the place? It’s not like they didn’t exist. They did exist, but we are now more aware of them because our own new car is now on our own radar and we see more of what we think about. The book talks of putting up visuals and pictures of your dream objects and attracting those into your life. I don’t really know reading this book had anything to do with it, but we recently went looking at homes that cost half a million dollars. Let’s hope we attract one into our lives!

Both books say that generosity attracts wealth because we’re saying, “we have enough.” Stinginess, on the other hand, sends out a message to the universe, that says, “I don’t have enough” so the Universe delivers on that thought. One of the best part is when the authors say, give in charity but without expecting anything back from God. Don’t treat charity as an investment in God’s company, for dividends in this life. Instead, you’re your charity poor, by giving it as your way of saying thank you for each aspect of your life, including hardships, for those hardships are the kernel of great tomorrows. One of the exercises, in fact, involves listing down all the good things and all the bad things that happened to you in life, as a way to show how even the worst incidents in one’s life, opened the doors to better things. I guess in a way, it’s like the pangs of childbirth do eventually do lead to the joy of having children.

The Secret is all about visualizing what you want and asking for what you want, while being positive. The author asks to not to ask God to end famine but to provide everyone with food. A peace rally will bring peace, while an anti-war rally, attracts more negative emotions around it. They talk of asking the right questions, and allowing God to answer it for you. Isn’t of saying ‘Why Am I Fat?’, which in turn will give you only negative answers that endorse that self-perception, the authors recommend you ask, “How can I get slimmer?” I’ve heard this same advice at a Tony Robbins seminar. Instead of saying “Why am I not succeeding?” we should ask “How can I succeed even more?”

So backtracking to what I began writing about. Maybe if I visualize long, languid days filled with memories, I’ll attract those. If I say the days of summer are short lived, they will be short lived. If I say we didn’t do all we wanted, there’s no chance we will do those things.

So here, now I am going to say, the days of summer are long and full of everything I ever imagined them to be. We’re going to go down to the beach, visit a museum or two, travel perhaps, spend time as a family on vacation. The weather is going to be amazing, blue skies, cool breezes. When the school year starts despite all the activities and commitments, we are going to have time for prayer and time for each other and time to laugh and play a board game or two. I am going to be calm, collected, and gently encouraging. When school starts we’re going to wake up way early, we’ll always be on time for the bus, maybe even early. We’re always going to be organized with not a back pack out of place. Yousuf is starting a new school, God Willing, and he will love it there and want to go back for more each morning. He’ll learn a lot and enjoy the challenges and make lots of friends. Taskeen will too. She’ll love school and they’ll both excel. Homework will be a breeze. There will be laughter and sun shine each day of our lives. In the spring, we’ll visit India and my parents, God willing. And somewhere in there, I will find a full time position at a university or college. It will be the beginning of great new things. Amen. As I write this down, I see that what happens to be unfolding is a prayer. This is the stuff of prayers!

In the Quran, it says that when we make a prayer for others, Angles say ‘Unto you to’. So these are my prayers for your family too. As you begin the school year, or continue a year that has already begun, may all these wishes come true. Amen.