Saturday, June 20, 2009

What passed is History

A wise turtle once said, "What passed is history, and what's next is a mystery. And today is a gift, that's why they call it present." This is a quote from the animation Kungfu Panda, where the turtle master is advising his disciple to let go of his bad experiences and look beyond to what the future harnesses in opportunity.

Live each day on its own merit. Don't dwell over the past. What happened is gone. The painful memories are no longer going to cause harm. Too many people get caught up on things that happened years back. They aren't able to get passed it, and their lives suffer because of it. They carry unnecessary stress which burdens their relationships and blurs their perceptions. People do this because it's so easy. Nothing can be simpler than not doing anything and playing the blame game. The problem is out there and you attribute your misery to others and your past.

People who live for the future also have a lot of problems. They can't seem to be satisfied with their current situation. They always say things like "everything will get better once I buy this or finish this project or get into this program." They are always relying on future circumstances for a solution, but the solution never seems to come their way. Soon they'll be too old to realize that they missed out on what really mattered.

Living in the present is a real gift. You release the negative memories from your past that weigh you down. You stop worrying about the future and what may come. You become proactive and take charge of your life. You enjoy the moment and realize that a day passed will never return. You become honest with yourself and think about what you really want. You realize that you shouldn't waste your time doing things that you don't want to do. You take control.

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Monday, June 8, 2009

Test Day

Its been 4 long months of brain wreckage. The good news: I finally finished the CFA exam. I feel like a 10 ton boulder was lifted off my chest. The preparation that led up to the exam was exhaustive and tense. The days immediately before the exam were nerve wrecking. You get into a frenzy, magnified by the fears of friends around you that are dreading the exam and are a mess. I am more than sure that my thinning hairline must be related.

Suddenly in the havoc of it all, I started to put things into perspective. The CFA exam would last merely 6 hours. For those important 6 hours, I had spent at least 300 hours of study time. I had trimmed my social life and dedicated time daily to study. I had pooled all my resources and energy in order to accomplish my goal. The expected reward (at the end of the program) would be the CFA designation, an upward pressure on my career.


A monologue took over my head, "Isn't life just one big test? How much time do I spend in preparation for the life's test? Do I dedicate half as much energy and resources to succeeding at life's test? If today was my last day on earth, would I pass life's test? What is at stake in life's test?"

Life is one big exam. Your curriculum and guidelines are the Quran and Sunnah. They spell out the principles and values that are core to your success. They are a clear guideline for the test, that is life. If you are able to follow the guidelines you are guaranteed a pass. If you slip up and fall, you can get right back up and get back on track.

I began to imagine what it would be like if I had all the answers to the CFA exam right there in front of me, before I took the exam. The preparation for the exam would have been sweet. All I would of had to do is memorize the answers and download them onto the exam paper to score a 100%. But what if, instead of just copying the answers on to the exam paper, I began philosophizing claiming there was a pattern that I was going to follow and instead changed the answers from an A to B to C. Wouldn't you say that I was being stupid and would be sure to fail?

But isn't that exactly what we do on a daily basis? We know what we need to do in order to succeed in life's test, but we just don't get around to doing it. Instead of answering life's choices with the correct choices, A, we may become philosophical, lazy, and unfocused and choose B. Obviously, the wrong answer results in failure.

The problem is that life's test isn't constrained to a few hours, it's continuous as long as you breathe. We lose perspective on life. We grow too accustomed to our routines and details. We often forget to take a moment before each choice to adjust our intentions and align our choices with our desired goals.

We don't dedicate nearly enough time, resources, or energy to the test of life? At the end of the day the stakes in life's test are high. The reward of passing is eternal bliss. Comfort and pampering beyond one's wildest dreams. The fulfillment of every desire upon thought. Peace. We could definitely expend more dedication for such a precious reward.

Thankfully, we get another day to breathe. Another day means another chance.

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