On why we need to love The Other

Dear quarter lives,

Some argue it is a basic human liberty to have faith in whatever knowledge we want, even if it has been proven to be false or heresy. Others argue that we live in society, therefore, every human action or liberty ought to be considered not only from the perspective of the individual but from the perspective of the collective as well. I cannot say which side I lean towards. I know that there are very valid arguments for both. There are beliefs that have very real consequences to the collective and so should not be considered lightly, for example, if a person believes there is nothing wrong with having sex with a minor, this belief doesn’t only affect the individual who believes this but is one that has real costs and consequences to the collective. So it is important to ask ourselves: When is the diversity of truth beneficial and when can it be harmful? Like everything, I suppose it is a matter of balance. We need there to be some people always who believe or who claim to know for certain something contrary to the rest of us; it allows us to know the boundaries of our own beliefs, of what we deem to be true, of where the borders of our morality lie.

For any society to be healthy and for the people and other living beings in it to coexist safely together, there must be a balance between freedom and truth because even the best of virtues in excess can be poisonous. Too much unchallenged truth turns into doctrine, and too much unchallenged freedom turns into chaos. We need the forces outside of us to constantly be in perfect tension with each other, just like a guitar string needs to be to produce the perfect melody. It is that constant tension between things that keeps everything in the universe working perfectly. It is that constant ebb and flow of forces that allows for balance to occur. Here tension acts as a peace keeper. And this is true even with the forces shaping our own internal experiences. If there is no back and forth between the voices within us, we would be too certain of ourselves, of our decisions, of who we are, of where we are. It is that little bit of doubt that creates the tiniest wiggle room necessary for transformation. We wouldn’t change or evolve if everything was so fixed in its way. It is the other that challenges, it is the other that helps us realise ourselves. It is the other too that invites us closer to balance. So why are we always trying so hard to eradicate the other?

Difference is beautiful and should be celebrated. And when it scares us, we should approach it with caution instead of immediately trying to extinguish it.

“The opposite of courage in our society is not cowardice, it is conformity.”

Rollo May

I will leave you here on this note to contemplate your own personal Others, maybe even say thank you to them for challenging you.

Till next time!

With love and always for peace,

S.A.

How Saturn marks the end of the Quarter Life

Dear quarter lives,

How do we know when we are done with the quarter life chapter of our lives? How do we know we are no longer quarter lives? Officially, there is no precise age at which it ends. Some of us finish a little earlier. Some of us a little later. It all depends on when Saturn comes back to us.

So for those of you familiar with astrology, you might’ve heard of a concept called the Saturn Return. For those of you who aren’t, well it sounds like it is, it is when Saturn returns to the exact place it was in the sky when we were born. Saturn takes between 27-30 years to make that journey. And when it finally returns to where it was when we were born, it marks the end of the first chapter of our lives. But before Saturn leaves us again, it needs to make sure we have grown enough to begin the next chapter of our lives. It needs to make sure we have matured, developed and learnt some early life lessons.

And how does Saturn do this you might ask…well, by presenting us with some challenges, some tests you could say which require us to show up and answer to a particular area of our lives that is being called to by Saturn – for some this might be work, for others it might involve a relationship, and for some it might involve facing the monsters of their mind, for others it could be showing up for their physical body and finally developing that discipline they were struggling with all those years ago. And for this reason, many dread Saturn’s return. And for this reason too, when she leaves again, many will be forever grateful for what she has taught them. 

Currently, I am going through my Saturn Return. One of the things I feel called to make peace with is ageing. It is no surprise that of all the planets that Saturn is the one calling for this. Saturn is often represented by the old wise woman or man. And for people, like me, with strong Saturn placements in our birth chart, we might come off as old (not necessarily always in appearance) but in temperament even as children. Saturn is not a softie or quick to react like the faster moving planets Venus, Mercury or Mars. It is slow. It is calculated. It is harsh in the same way life can be harsh. It is not to hurt us but to make us stronger and more resilient. Saturn pushes us to take responsibility for our lives, because if we can’t take responsibility for our own lives, how can we begin to take responsibility for others, how can we bear children and parent if we cannot parent our own inner children. Saturn comes to wake up the dead within us. It wakes up all forgotten wounds and calls for healing. So do not ignore Saturn’s calls. For those who ignore Saturn’s calls will lack the patience, will and oomph to take on life. For to continue to participate in such a magnanimous experience such as living requires one to have their arms wide open to Life. And those arms, as Saturn is trying to tell you, need to be strong enough to take all that force and still be able to enjoy it. 

It is true, when Saturn comes, things end, losses occur, people separate. But what Saturn does to us is exactly what we do to our closets or our homes when we decide it’s time to declutter and empty them out of old clothes, papers, memories and ask ourselves the Marie Kondo infamous question – does this bring me joy?, and if it does not, we need to let it go. This is what Saturn comes to do when she returns to us, she returns to help us asks ourselves some tough questions in order to declutter our lives, our bodies and our minds. And as a result, she helps prepare us for the next quarter of our lives by helping us make space in our lives for a whole new set of memories, people, experiences we are yet to experience, and this is to make sure we are ready to receive more of life without feeling congested, cramped up or overwhelmed by it. Saturn helps us let go of the past to make room for the future, and in doing so invites us to center ourselves into the present so that we can feel and be connected to our present day voices and needs as we make some big life decisions.

To those like me going through our Saturn return right now, I feel you. It is hard no doubt but it is necessary and from what I hear well worth it in the end. So just know that you are not alone, know that this is a rite of passage that we all must go through if we are to come of Age and enter the next quarter life light, ready and strong with feet firmly rooted and a back fully erect like a tree. 

And to Saturn, I say thank you. I will carry your lessons forth with me till we meet again in 29 years for a whole new set of lessons and to say goodbye to the mid-life.

With all my love and always with the intention to bring peace,

Shahinda

On Reconsidering Our Choices

Dear quarter lives, 

We often think we know what’s best for us. And it is that faith in our decision-making abilities that grounds us and gives us the courage to make some of the most difficult choices in our lives. And sometimes the most difficult thing we can do is to reconsider our choices. We think we know what’s best for us. But do we actually know what’s best for us? And if we don’t, then who does? When we’re twenty-something, choices feel more like reactions to events taking place in our lives than they do like conscious choices we actually make and choose. We do our best, but what if our best when we were 22 is not good enough for when we are 29? I believe one of the hardest choices we can make is to reconsider a choice we said no to before. Or to reconsider choices made from the beautiful yet naive idealism of a 22 year-old. Yes, we should definitely be true to ourselves but sometimes being true might just turn into being stubborn. When a path we are on stops flowing, when it feels like there are roadblocks everywhere, it might be a good time to reconsider new options which could also be old options. The thing is the point is just to keep on moving, and if one path ends at a dead end, it’s no use to sit there because you’ll sit there forever. So I feel that for one to reconsider other paths, one must open one’s mind and accept to see their situation differently, through new eyes and a fresh perspective. Sometimes what happens is we hold onto a belief of ourselves or of something in the world so tight that it blocks us from seeing what might have always been right in front of us, staring us in the face this the whole entire time. So I tell you as well as myself: Don’t let the fear of turning back keep you stuck. We all make choices that might’ve felt right at one point but turned out to be not so right later on. So it’s okay to turn back. It’s okay to adapt our choices. If we are to survive this life, we must be flexible with our minds and our choices. Or else, not only our minds will break but we will too. So we must constantly practice engaging the elasticity of our minds and our hearts. May we all have the clarity of vision, the flexibility of mind and the openness of heart to make the best possible choices.

With love and always for peace, 

S.A. 

On Conflict and Resolution

Dear quarter lives, 

During our lifetime, we are bound to run into conflicts not only with other people, but particularly with ourselves. In fact, they say often that the conflicts that arise with other people are merely a reflection of the conflicts hidden within us. And so it goes, when we resolve these conflicts within ourselves, our conflicts with others too fade away. For those of us on a conscious journey of coming to peace, this is great news because that means the more we resolve within us, the less conflict we experience with life, and thus the less and less suffering we endure. The reason this is especially great news is because it means we always have the power to resolve conflict, and power is the key ingredient any individual party or person must have to partake in resolution. To truly resolve any conflict, we must come to the resolution from a place of power, and that place of power certainly doesn’t not mean a place of victory, for there is no victory in conflict resolution, there is no defeat either — there is only peace. Peace for all parties is the goal here. And all parties must be conscious of this intention and must want peace. For if one party does not want peace, it will continue to sabotage the peace process.

So when you find yourself constantly self-sabotaging, that is a sign that there is a conflict within yourself that needs addressing. There is one part trying to achieve a certain goal and another part that does everything to destroy any progress towards that goal. When this happens, you must sit with both parties within yourself and listen. First, we must listen to what each part has to say, because every part is justified in its feelings. Every part of us has a reason to why it is acting the way it is acting. And every part wants to be heard and seen by us. Often inner conflict is exacerbated by self-denial and ignoring the relevant part, even when it is screaming at you. It is important when you are sitting with yourself to mediate between these parts. It is important that you listen with compassion, that you bring forth the part of yourself that is non-partisan, that is not judgmental, that is all-loving, which is often referred to as our Higher Self. To heal any conflict, we must first connect to the conflict. We must be in the conflict before we can resolve anything. Presence is what is often needed. Acknowledgement for what has been felt and experienced is needed. And then we can move on and begin to reconcile. Always remember, resolution can only happen if we let go of the need to win. We must completely surrender our notions of victory and defeat. We must want peace! We must want to be in union within ourselves. We must want resolution. This process can be translated to our conflicts with other people. Often what is causing the conflict is both sides refusing to recognise one another. We must acknowledge that for the other party, their pain is valid, even if we believe deep down it is not our responsibility to bear. Acknowledging someone else’s pain has nothing to do with taking responsibility for it. You can witness someone’s grief and not have caused it. And like with the parts within ourselves, we must have compassion for everyone involved. We must want to be at peace with them. We must want our relationship to move forward together.

So when you find yourself in conflict, do not rush to resolve anything before you actually feel all the feelings that have been triggered by being in conflict. And then after you have given yourself ample time to be in conflict, when your feelings have been felt and some distance can now be had from them, only now can you approach other parties to try to seek resolution. Peace is a choice. No one can be forced into peace, and that includes parts of ourselves that don’t want peace. When this happens and there are parties refusing peace, we must listen to why they do not want peace and attempt to approach the disharmony present from there. Until there is harmony in the intention for peace amongst all parties, resolution will never truly arrive. We must be in union with ourselves to come to peace. We must be wanting to be in union with others to come to peace with one another. And throughout this process of coming to peace, be grateful to the conflict for it is the engine driving us forward towards peace. Be sure to remind yourself amidst all the anger and anxiety that surfaces within you during conflict, that it is a good thing this is happening, because it means something within you has finally woken up and seeking to be healed and brought back into union. Without conflict, there wouldn’t be peace. So do not fear the conflict, but certainly be mindful of how you handle the conflict. Be mindful of the harm you inflict on others or on yourself during the process. And be brave enough to apologise when you have made a mistake and inflicted harm on another whether you did so intentionally or not. And most importantly be kind enough to love ALL of yourself through the errors, attempts and failures leading you to peace. 

With love and always for peace, 

S.A. 

What is Grief? How do we release it?

Dear quarter lives, 

We all have an emotion that is our personal Everest. We all have an emotion that we believe if we allow our selves to feel, we might die, but we might also reach the highest peak in our lives. We might gain a view of the world that only a handful of people have experienced. For me, that emotion is grief. Grief is my Everest. It is the one emotion that I’ve prevented myself from going through because the little glimpses I’ve gotten of it felt unbearable. It felt like I couldn’t breathe, that my heart was physically in pain. I could never allow myself to connect to grief for too long. It always overwhelmed me. But now I have come to a point in my healing journey where I must feel my grief. I must allow myself to grieve a loss I thought I wouldn’t survive. But the thing is I am still here. And I have survived despite my own disbelief in myself. Now, as I sit with my grief, I hear it asking me to trust it. To trust that I will survive feeling it. To trust too that I will not be empty without it, merely much lighter. Even though grief has been this thing I’ve always dreaded feeling, I’ve somehow developed this attachment to it. I began to confuse it with myself. The boundaries between us became blurry. But I realise now that I am not my grief. I realise too that I will not be alone without my grief. To release it from me and me from it, one thing must happen. I must cry. Have you ever had the feeling that you might lose yourself in your tears. I am afraid that if I start, I cannot stop. But I must, for the sake of my health, both mental and physical. I must free myself from my own grip on grief. 

Yes, it is often we that hold our grief captive and not the other way around. It’s like if you let go of the grief, there will no longer be proof for the loss you’ve gone through. And grief is not easy to release, the longer it stays within us, the longer it mingles and marries with other emotions. Grief for me is hugely tied to my Anger. I actually don’t know which came first. I don’t know if I was so angry that grief needed to come in to cool me down. Or if I was actually so cold in my grief, that anger came in to heat things up. The thing is our bodies are always striving for balance. Our bodies don’t recognise that we might be going through a lot of one emotion so it’ll hold back with another. Our bodies are designed to maintain balance. Neither side of the imbalance is good or bad. Neither side is wrong. It is merely the imbalance that is wrong. And I believe that’s what grief is trying to tell us, that it is merely here to even things out. It is not here to punish us or make us suffer for something bad we’ve done. It is here to tell us in fact the complete opposite, that we are not bad, that we don’t deserve to be out of balance, that we don’t deserve to suffer. It is not the grief that is causing us to suffer, it is the state of imbalance we experience after a loss. When we lose something, grief comes into that space to help us heal. Grief is healing. Grief is a gift of kindness from God to help us through our loss. Without grief, we cannot cry for the pain we are feeling, and if we cannot cry, we will continue to suffer in silence with no one in sight to help us because no one can hear us. Grief gives us our voice back. Grief helps call our loved ones to our rescue. Grief is a cry for love. Grief helps to bring us back to the present, because loss will often leave us stranded in the past. Grief is God’s way of telling us I got you. It is Their way of saying You think you might die, but I got you. I promise I do. Grief teaches us to have mercy on ourselves and on others. Grief is Mercy. And Mercy is the most godly of all acts. To learn to have mercy is to learn the language of God. I believe grief brings us closer to our Source. Grief is Spirit flowing through us. Grief is what opens our hearts again when they have been closed shut. So let it flow, dear quarter lives. Let grief flow through your veins until you are fully back here in the now with a heart open and ready to love once again. 

My grief won’t be like your grief. So to release grief, we must try to understand our own grief. We must understand what it is here to teach us. We must learn to love it. We must say thank you to it for all it has endured as we held it hostage within us. To release grief, we must be kind to ourselves. We must refrain from blaming ourselves for holding in grief. We must understand that this is what we had to do to survive, to cope with a destabilizing experience of loss. We must love ourselves through it. Hold your own hand through the grieving process. Hold your hand like you would a friend’s. Hold yourself as you birth grief out of you. And I promise you, dear one, that you will survive. Even better, you will finally come back to life. 

Please if you know someone who has recently been through a significant loss, ask about them. Even a simple text message saying I love you makes all the difference. And remember, we can experience loss in many ways beyond death. Losing a relationship, a  job, a dream, our health, our home. Grief can be very potent, but it can be very liberating as well. So feel it, free it, and if you can, help a loved one feel supported through their grieving process. Remember, we all grieve in different ways so be mindful of what you say to someone who is grieving. May our hearts be free of grief, may our souls feel held by love once again.

With love and always for peace, 

S.A.

On our Relationship to Information

Dear quarter lives, 

This topic was inspired by a recent and very long conversation with friends, so I dedicate this one to my beloved friends who challenge me and to the spirit of debate that keeps our minds healthy and our hearts open. 

To begin this contemplation, let’s start by defining the term information.

According to the Oxford Dictionary, information is defined as facts told or discovered. In searching the internet for other definitions, I found that all lead to similar conclusions that information is knowledge obtained from some sort of investigation or study. It is not opinion. It is fact. And its purpose is to resolve uncertainty and to make more of the unknown knowable. 

In the world we are currently living in, I would argue that information has lost its closeness to certainty. Knowledge that is communicated is not always fact; neither is it opinion. We live in a very rich and diverse world of beliefs where there are abundant schools of thought for literally everything, so fact is only fact as deemed so by its proponents. Some see a problem in this as they deem it the cause for misinformation and the threat to progress in our societies. While others find such diversity in information to be a great sign of humanity’s progress in tolerance and acceptance. I can see the tension between both rising, but I can also see that it is that tension between these multiple truths that will keep our societies healthy and in balance. Once you have too much of the same of anything in any ecosystem, whether it’s our own bodies or a forest or coral reef, the system is in danger. It is out of balance, and thus, vulnerable to attack or disease. 

And as much as I know deep down that having some wiggle room for debate and questioning is what brings about inventions and innovations, I cannot help but wonder too about the consequences too much doubt can have on us and our relationship to information. I have been thinking a lot about what my relationship to information is — do I trust information or have I due to a habit of constant questioning developed a deep mistrust in it? Moreover, I had always thought that I (like every other human) should be free to believe and express what I want. I had never thought that my beliefs have consequences. I never considered the impact of what I express. I never considered that, like there are benefits to freedom of expression, there are costs too. It made me rethink my power as a writer. It made me reconsider the value of what I put out there. Does everything need to be said and at whose cost are we speaking? But equally, when I deem someone else’s expression of their truth invalid simply because it is not factual according to the scientific method, what am I doing to the emotional and more felt and experiential part of being human? What am I doing to society if I say that Love cannot be because science has not proven that there is a particle called Love? What am I doing if I prevent people from venturing into different realms of certainty? It is not that love is an unknown, neither is it opinion, it is merely that love is the kind of fact that is only provable through felt experience. 

What is the cost of not being able to navigate an uncertain kind of certainty? Why can’t we live in a world where different kinds of facts exist? I am not saying if we needed to build a spaceship to just say a bunch of affirmations for an entire month and expect to have a spaceship as a result. But what if we can entertain that saying a bunch of affirmations can have an impact on our physical health even if science cannot yet prove it? Why can’t science and other forms of truth coexist? I would argue strongly that it is largely because of our own relationship to information. Just like being in relationship with a person, there are certain expectations we have from information. One big one is reliability. We rely completely on information to tell us the truth, and so the idea of having multiple pieces of information that tell different stories is immediately assumed to threaten that reliability of information which is at the very foundation of our relationship to it. But someone who is in a polyamorous relationship will tell you being in relationship with two different people, experiencing two different kinds of love (like two different kinds of information) does not change the reliability factor at all. Every love is its own kind of love and does not diminish or compare to the other; in fact each one only enhances the other and both work together in unison to create a third completely new experience of love. 

The problem isn’t that there’s so much conflicting information out there, the problem is that we are looking for information to provide us with safety and security. We are looking to information to relieve us of our anxiety of the unknown, so when information stops doing that, we want to condemn it for not being really information. We want certainty and we expect it from every fact and we blame information for being broken if it fails to give us that certainty. But it is not information that is the problem, it is our relationship to information. I will say it one more time — it is our relationship to information that requires recalibration and not information itself. We as a collective society have become too dependent, too reliant on fact and certainty. We do not have to explain the world away only in one way; there can be the scientific narrative; there can be the energetic narrative; there can be as many kinds of narratives as there are people.  

What I’d just like to ask of you as we end this beautiful contemplation together — consider if you had a completely new sense; one that is only unique to you and allows you to perceive the world in a way that when you try to explain it to someone else, it conflicts with the story of the world that we experience together with the rest of our senses. How would you feel if you expressed it to someone and they told you you’re a liar or you’re a lunatic? How would you feel if you are shunned from a collective right not only to experience the world differently but to contribute to it as well? What we’re experiencing in the world today is a consequence of such isolation and alienation. All any one of us wants to feel is like we belong, and all any one of us needs to be able to feel like we belong is to express our truth without fearing condemnation because of it. We once lived in a world where it was perceived as a fact from god that being anything but heterosexual should be punished and shunned. Today, we live in a world where people use the word of science like they used to use that of god, it is neither the word of god that is at fault here nor the word of science, it is always the fault of people who want to use information to wield power by manipulating people. Let us not condemn people’s individual rights to self-expression, when it is our collective wounded relationship to information that needs healing. We should certainly all reflect and reconsider our own relationship to information as well as the consequences of how we use and communicate information and the intention behind our own expressions of the truth. But what I fear happens when we deem some views invalid is to create further segregation in a society that is hungry for unity. Not unity in views, but in acceptance. We must be able to live in a world where we can be different and still be accepted to be who we are without having to change to fit in someone else’s view of the world. Like almost everything in life, even love, information is a double-edged sword that can be used for good or for evil, so we must be wise, careful and mindful of how we use our swords of information. Perhaps we cannot strive to control information, the only thing we can control is our own selves. It is not up to information to get rid of its evil consequences. It is always up to us, up to the carrier to pick which end of the sword they will use. I cannot force you to use information my way, the same way I cannot force you to eat a certain way just because we all endure the consequences of a collective health burden on our societies and economies together. 

I hope this has left you with sufficient food for thought to keep you going for a while. May we all have the ability to discern for ourselves what is true in any given moment. 

With love and always for peace, 

S.A. 

On the unknown aspect of time

Dear quarter lives,

Where do you see yourself in 10 years? – that question always made me anxious; I guess because I struggled to see myself anywhere with any certainty. And as much anxiety uncertainty can cause us, I believe certainty has that ability too. If you knew exactly how the next 10 years of your life will unfold, you would cry. You would cry at the triumphs, you would cry at the losses, but most of all you would cry because you can’t imagine how you’ll get through it all, but you will. You will survive all of it, and not because your survival is certain but because it is uncertain. It is the uncertainty that gives us hope, it is the uncertainty of how it will all turn out that makes us fight. It is that very uncertainty that nurtures within us our own special faiths — sometimes in god but mainly in ourselves. It is because we don’t exactly know how we’ll get there that we get there. It is all because we don’t know that we are still here, still surviving, still making it.

My whole life I’ve been trying to know as much as I can about myself, about life, about everything really. Why? Because I thought knowledge gave me a better chance at surviving. It is ironic that it is in fact because of all the things I don’t know that I keep on trying. It is the uncertainty of our futures that pushes us forward. It is precisely because we don’t know that we try. It is because we don’t know that we have hope for the future to be better. It is that very hope that pushes humanity forward. It is that very uncertainty that is behind all progress. And this for me was the most profound realisation I have had in a while — the very thing that I have feared my entire life is actually the very thing keeping me alive. And now instead of feeling powerless at all the unknowns in my life, I can feel empowered. Now, I can finally rest in the present without feeling so daunted and overwhelmed by the uncertainties of the future trusting these very uncertainties to get me exactly where I need to be. May you, may I, may we all find peace in the present moment.

With love and hope,

S.A.

December 8, 2020

10.34 a.m.

Sakkara, Egypt

Solutions to decision-making

Dear quarter lives,

As a young child, we were taught at school to follow the rules and do as told. Free-thinkers and rebellious children who feel called to act differently to the rest of the group are deemed troublesome. They are told to behave and do as told and not what they feel. They are told to stop thinking for themselves. Flash forward 10-15 years later, when these very kids enter university and the work force, and all of a sudden they are expected to make big life decisions themselves. Now, they do not have someone telling them what the “right” thing to do is. Now, they must think, feel, and decide for themselves. Sadly, now, after all these years of being trained out of thinking for themselves, they cannot. Now, we have young adults who were taught to disconnect from their natural instincts and inclinations, they were trained to distrust all the signals telling them to do what felt right to them. Now, as grown ups, they cannot decide for themselves. They are so disconnected from that internal source that used to tell them as a child what to do but it is too the very thing they were told was trouble. Now, we have young people who fear their own internal voice because they were told it was bad. No wonder so many of us are afraid to just be ourselves, because our whole lives, ourselves were deemed unacceptable if we deviated from the “norm”.

The reality of the matter is that most of us will fall outside of that box of norms because what are norms really but a random set of silently agreed upon rules and codes of conduct that are specific to a particular group of people, and what is normal somewhere might be completely unacceptable somewhere else just because that’s how the story of those people evolved, and not because there is a singular “best” or “true” version of the human being we must all aspire to become. There are endless possibilities to how a human being can be, but we have limited ourselves to only allowing a select few to express themselves. For authentic humans to exist again, we need to make room for them, not only in our minds but in our societies. We need to encourage differences, instead of condemning them. For our true voices to reveal themselves to us, they need to feel safe to come out. Until they do, they will remain hidden and so long as our voices remain hidden, we will remain hidden. So it is absolutely necessary for us to find our voices if we are to ever find our authentic selves again.

Cultivating that connection with our internal voices is definitely no easy task, but without it, I don’t see how we can ever come to peace with ourselves again. Now whenever you feel daunted by any decision you have to make, reassure yourself that it is not your fault, reassure yourself that it is perfectly normal after all those years of militarised standardised education we were subjected to as young children with very malleable minds to grow up to be adults that struggle deeply with decision-making. Remind yourself that your voice is not lost, even if you can’t hear it clearly right now, you will again someday. That is why we meditate, to cultivate enough stillness, enough silence, to be able to hear that voice we lost so long ago.

Without our own voice guiding us, we shall remain lost, we shall remain afraid, and we will always feel torn apart because we actually were. So to myself, to all the young souls searching for their voice, may you meet again with that sweet beloved you lost. Do not give up on your Self; do not let the silence scare you away. Believe me – you are already living your worst nightmare because there is no greater loss, no greater trauma than to be severed from our Selves. So find your stillness to find your voice and come to peace again.

Love+Light,

S.A.

December 6, 2020 — Sakkara, Egypt

We are our own blindspot.

Dear quarter lives,

Have you ever wondered why we can dish out advice so easily, yet when it comes to our own lives fail to see what is right in front of us? Have you considered the fact that we go through our whole lives seeing other peoples’ backs but never our own? Even our own face is hidden from us until we use a mirror. But the good news is there are plenty of mirrors everywhere. The whole world can be your mirror, but only if you are willing to see your reflection in it. With the current state of the world, it can be even more uncomfortable to consider the possibility that the world might actually be a pretty accurate reflection of us. It is scary; it is sad; it is heartbreaking. But until we can accept the world as it is with all the ugly, the dysfunctional, the shameful, we will never be able to accept our whole selves. Like the world we are made up of decaying skeletons as well as new growing life, and we too like the world, are desperate for acceptance. It is not about seeing the positive in the world (or in ourselves); it is about loving the world (and ourselves) exactly as it is (exactly as we are). It is about seeing ourselves and the world around us for who and what we are without trying to love them by trying to see the good in them or by fixing them. To love the world and ourselves exactly as we are today with all the dents, cracks, and imperfections, with all the anger, guilt, fear, and loneliness — that is real love. When you can love the dirty, the unspeakable, the shameful in yourself, in the world, in others — that is unconditional love. It is actually not about loving the “good”; it is about finally giving those parts that we call “bad” a break and showing them some love. You are not loving if you only love what is easy to love. Our hearts can stretch wide, so wide they can fit the whole wide world inside of them, so don’t limit your heart to a sliver of the space it can hold, let it carry all of you, let it take that weight of shame off your shoulders so you can breathe again.

Give permission to yourself to love yourself as you are, to love the people around you as they are, to love the world as it is today, and not as we hope it will be in the future or as it was in the past but actually as it really is. The world can be dark and scary in many ways, and in just as many ways, it can be full of joy and light. If we choose to only accept the light, we’ll always be rejecting one half of the world(and one half of us). Accept the darkness, it has been rejected for too long. It is screaming for our attention communicating with us through disease, conflict, and trauma (both within ourselves and outside in the world). Love your darkness, say thank you to it and make peace with ALL of yourself. 

With love and always for peace,

S.A.

On fearing Death

Dear Quarter Lives,

I feel it is time I spoke about death. I believe if we are to really confront our lives and and contemplate why we make the choices we make, we will find that it is all for or against death. You see, there is this constant anxiety to achieve, to create, to find love, to have sex, to make money, to build a home, see the world. make friends, make children, to do all of it — all before we die. So why all the worry about achieving, missing out, why are we so bothered about leaving our mark on this planet, why do we need to prove we were once alive?

Surely, if you believe something so strongly and feel it so deeply, you feel no urgency to prove it because you are already so sure of it. It is only those things we are most insecure about, those things that we need so desperately to be true, those are things we try so hard to prove and those too are the things that have no proof except through our faith in them. So doesn’t it make you wonder why we are so desperate to prove our aliveness? The only answer that ever comes back to me is this: Because the alternative might mean we are actually dead. But what does it matter if we are dead or alive? If we’re not afraid of either, then it shouldn’t matter, then the difference between them becomes nothing more than a name. And that got me thinking that maybe the fear we are battling is not with death itself but rather with our own expectation of death. In confronting our expectations of death, we must confront our mind and it is our mind that scares us the most, not because of the monsters it creates, but because of the potential it exhibits by creating those monsters. We are afraid of a power we have no manual for. It is our mind that allows us to experience life the way we do. It is also our mind that allows us to experience death the way we do.

But who controls this mind? Is it us, circumstance, god, or an alien perhaps? I believe we are afraid of the realisation that we control our own minds, that in fact how we see the world is our responsibility, that we are alone the tyrant and the saviour of our minds and in turn our worlds. And that means that we are alone in our particular experience of the world. We might be alone in death, but death is later, and at least for now, we convince ourselves we are not alone and in turn we work hard to prove our coexistence with others on this planet. We fall in love, have children, make families, make companies, build cities full of people. Yet the truth of the matter is that we are always alone.

It is why to truly embrace life, one must come to terms with solitude. It is the only way to switch the mind from a state of fear to one of love. Remember it is not death that we can change, so let us not expend energy on that which we cannot control; it is the state of our minds that we can alter and transform. It is perhaps one of the very few things we can choose in this experience of Life and Death — the choice between love and fear — that is the only choice we really have. We are merely vessels through which life passes, and then death, and then life, and death again and so on.

We are conductors of energy so let the energy you conduct be that of love so that the energy you transmit be of love too. You cannot conduct fear and hope to transmit love. So let us align ourselves with love, but to do so, we must engage our fears. So let us talk about our anxieties of the future, of the constant approaching of death. Let us not fear fearing our own fears, for they will only grow angrier when ignored, just as you would if you were ignored. Fear can become jealous too from all that you give attention to, just as you would if no one gave you attention. So let us attend to our fears, for they are the only way to find peace. Our fears are our guiding lights, they point us towards all that we need to address in order to come into alignment with ourselves. So let’s talk about death. I am shit scared of death, but I never realised just how much. My anxiety would reach crazy levels to the point I would just disconnect from life. My system was so afraid of this experience of life (which is basically an experience of approaching death) that it dissociated and would unplug and disengage completely. It is a strange experience when you realise only in retrospect that you were having panic attacks, that you were so disconnected that you hadn’t realised it. I was incapable of being present because the present was constantly moving, it was constantly over, it was constantly dying. And so it was easier to exist in a static tense; one that I controlled; one that existed only in my mind; one that no one could take away from me; one where only I could decide when it was over whenever I was ready to let go of it.

When I eventually felt ready to begin to face my fear of dying, I began to venture out into the real world again and step out of the reality of my mind. It’s only when I began to engage with life again that I realised just how afraid I was of dying, of disappearing, of not knowing if I’ll survive or where I’ll end up, of being alone, of being lost. All my life I had thought I was afraid to engage with the real world and I had built all these walls telling myself it was because of my childhood, my ill health, my parents, my body, my voice, my…, my…etc. Only when I began to unravel all those things that I finally realised they were all just context wrapped around the original core fear — death.

The strange thing to me was that I never thought I was afraid to die. I actually thought I wanted to die, because I was so afraid of life. But life is after all the experience of approaching death. So you cannot be afraid of death without being afraid of life, and you cannot love life without falling in love with death first. I was so afraid but I couldn’t feel it because my body was trying to protect me from it. It was trying to manage it to the point it was unbearable for my body that it decided to attack and sacrifice itself just to make the fear go away. And once you realise something like that, you can’t unrealise it, and all of a sudden I felt all this fear rushing in. All this fear I hadn’t allowed myself to feel at all, because that would mean I would feel afraid and it was too overwhelming so I shut it out and refused to feel anything at all. I didn’t allow myself to feel love. I didn’t allow myself to feel sadness or anger or joy or fear. I was just numb for most of my life. I can only though feel how much I was not here, now that I am here. There are only things you can see when you step outside your box. And so I think it’s important we talk about fear, and about death, and about fearing death, because it is a very powerful fear, one that hides very well under the shadows of other fears, one that can stop us from feeling at all. And what are we if we cannot feel. The only way to truly come to life is to love. And to feel love, we must allow ourselves to feel. And to do so, we must feel fear first. 

We can deny the fact and go on existing trying so hard to run away from death but we can never outrun it. One day we will have to face it. So wouldn’t you rather be prepared? Wouldn’t you rather get to know what you are facing rather than be taken completely by surprise? Wouldn’t you rather learn to practice surrendering a little every day so that when the Big Surrender comes you can ease into it instead of painfully resist it?

In confronting our fears of death, we are not only confronting our mortality but rather the expectation of our immortality. It is only our definitions of life and death that we need to discard, for Life and Death exist outside the boundaries of language. They are undefinable. They are unknown, and will always be so. It is the not knowing that we need to make peace with when we make peace with death. It is the fact that we will never truly know if we are alive or dead that we must rest with. In confronting our fears of death, we must confront the reality that we are limited. We are limited in our knowledge, we are limited in our abilities to perceive, we are limited in life span. But we too are infinite in nature, and that too can be difficult to sit with. How can we be limited but endless? It is that contradiction that we must accept. And it is this duality that defines everything really that we must finally accept and relax into. We will never know — that is really what we must make peace with.

I believe the fear of these uncertainties are the reason we are experiencing such collective dysfunction and chaos in the world. We are not settled because our minds are not settled. We are in distress and we are in denial we are suffering. I believe all this chaos in the world is inviting us to sit down with it, to confront it, to heal it. And all you need to actually do to confront the destruction and death in your society is to confront the destruction and death within yourself. To confront does not mean to fight but to look at, to see, to embrace. It is just like when you confront someone, all you are doing is looking them straight in the eyes. It is no different with death. You must look Death in the eyes. Look deeply. Stay there, stay with it, and rest your gaze. At first you will see nothing. Later you will recognize the darkness. And some time after that, you will realise that you haven’t opened your eyes yet, that this whole time you were so afraid of your own expectation of death, that you hadn’t even opened your eyes. You’ve been living in the darkness of your own mind this whole time. So allow your eyes to gently open. It is your own resistance that has left you sitting in the dark. You just forgot that you decided to close your eyes a long time ago. Open up. Allow the light to shine through, and know that even the scariest of monsters do not survive the light for long.

Always for peace,

S.A.