Making friends with my demons

…when I’m not sleeping

I love my sleep. I really do. It really does not matter whether I’m lying down comfortably or sitting in an awkward chair. If I need to sleep, I will. Which is why the alarm on my phone is such a godsend. 07h45. Snooze! 08h00. Snooze. 10h00. Bloody hell! It’s 12h00!

The strange thing is that when I have an important morning meeting, or in a regular job that I need to hit the highway by 06h15, I am up by 05h30! I swear. By 06h00 I would’ve showered and shaved, made oats (my new thing!) and my mug of coffee. Coffee is crucial. And no decaf bullshit either. You don’t want to ruin a good day with a bad coffee.

When I realise that I have to work tomorrow, I get so anxious that I check and prepare just about everything before I go to bed at night: printouts for my lectures, the keys to the office, the access key to the office parking, laptop cords, student registers… So I have no problem getting up, even before the alarm, when I know that I have to.

But as soon as I know that tomorrow is Saturday or vacation or whatever, then boom! 12hoo. There is an old Jewish saying: If you have a reputation of an early-riser, then you can sleep until noon. This saying does not apply to me. I have the reputation of a noon-riser and so everyone is shocked when they see me up early in the morning. Go figure!

Now with such a rigorous and methodical routine, what inspires me and where am I at my best? I am so glad you asked.

In the last month I have written several pieces that I have posted on Medium. A few I have placed under the collection Warriors of the Light and three others that have found their way on Ummah Wide. In 2014 I published my first book on an anti-apartheid movement called Punching Above Its Weight—The Story of the Call of Islam. I am presently also writing several other pieces that I began last year. Two of them are novels.

The truth is that I really love writing. Perhaps more than what I love the snooze button. But what has really sparked my new writing spurt is a combination of three things. I did a course in understanding the self and so began to meditate (more often) and became more self reflective. Then I acquired my new writing machine, my MacBook Pro. And just when I thought that I’ve reached my zen, a few storms hit my personal shoreline.

Somehow, the combination of self reflection and personal crises brought out the creative in me. And the MacBook became the instrument through which I could create the word paintings. I don’t like personal crises. They make me anxious to say the least. But when I reflect upon them I see these exquisite colours, intense, dark, in these fascinating combinations. My empathy for pain in others deepens because of the resonance, the connection to my own.

A friend of mine, Shabbir Banoobhai, unaware of my issues, sums it up so beautifully in a poem he shared on Facebook:

sometimes our best gifts
come dressed in wolf’s clothing
carefully tailored
designed, it seems
to scare us into a lair
from which there is no escape –
until we decide to smile at one
and the unthinkable happens

it smiles at us
its snarl curling up at our feet
as if it was a puppy
waiting for us –
its only source of love –
to draw it up, hold it close
whisper sweet nothings in its ears
nuzzle its o so soft hair
as it licks our gooey face –
at pains no doubt to say
i love you, i love you

then, noting our hesitation
it wags its tail harder
moaning plaintively –
you did not really believe
i meant to harm you, did you?

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2 thoughts on “Making friends with my demons

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