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Why It Pays To Pay Attention

One of my favorite verses in the Holy Qur'an translates into

“Verily with hardship comes ease.” (94:5)


That always got my mind running. Wouldn't it be awful if the place where hardship and ease met is a transition in disguise?


What if, the area where these two overlap looks like a moment in our lives we don’t quite notice? Like the direction we twist our wrist to close the spice jar, or the first time we tasted a pecan pie & felt the filling pop in our tastebuds but continued to devour it on autopilot?


What if this transition happens in yet another snowflake on a winter morning, or when the aroma of mama's Eid treats fill the house up? Or when she took you to the bakery at the age of 5 & you asked her to buy you a baguette but personalized it with a bite at the top where it protruded from the cardboard pouch? She had to buy it – it was no longer a matter of choice.


Maybe I'm selfish for wanting to be fully present to witness the transition from sorrow into indifference, or even happiness. But I am convinced that most of us go through life without ever coming to the realization that these little so-called mediocre incidents are more important than the milestones we set for ourselves. The first children's novel I ever read was Charlotte's Web, which I borrowed from a friend named Zainab. I was eight, and can remember it so vividly. By the time I reached the other end of the paperback I was flabbergasted, drenched in tears and frustrated at E. B. White. It never dawned on me that a heart so little can feel so much, but that is almost how I ended up: seeking heartache regardless of its consequences.


Perhaps because it precedes ease? That, I still don't know.



Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library; Hartford, CT

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