Leaps of Gratefulness

Ah oh. I really shouldn’t be blogging and make preps for the birthday do tonight. But I can’t help it, I waited for that time-stamp on my blog for 4 years. So a little distraction just to document it will be ok, wouldn’t it?

Anyway, I always feel so very lucky on the 29th. It is a weird feeling to be a leap year baby, and I recall my tiny fingers scrawling the number ’29’ in a red marker, on the calendar on some years when there is no leap day.

I got my semi-surprised birthday gift from DH at the stroke of midnight last night. I was, of all things, slumped unceremoniously in front of my Mac – staring hard at the Canada Revenue website (yes, DEFINITELY unceremonious!). There were some company matters to attend to, and I was reading through tax (*read: BORING) information. At 11.59 pm, DH burst into the homeoffice with a little wrapped box in hand. I was of course super excited and opened it. It was …errr.. a box of matches. It came with a note that says the real present has ‘walked’ away…and it is somewhere near the keyboard. Oh well…I have a treasure hunt to participate!

It was a lovely gift. And very timely too. You see, in the past month or so – we have been taking walks around the neighbourhood. In my true Asian fashion, I will ONLY wear whats comfortable on my feet – and with evening temperatures sometimes hitting below zero degrees, nothing else matters. I have been walking with my Rockport sandals because they were the most comfortable for me, even if they are open-toed ones! Yes, I have been walking in below zero temperature (on some nights) with just socks and sandals warming my feet. My trainers were broken, and I didn’t want to buy a pair just for the sake of buying one. I am pretty happy with my Rockports, thank you.

So to Nike DH went for my birthday gift – all nicely wrapped in a huge orange bow.

The usual wishes came through various means, via Facebook, MSN, SMS, phonecalls and emails. Thank God for technology. I don’t remember having to reply to so many birthday wishes all at the same time.

I woke up this morning with a quiet conversation with God, thanking Him for his many bounties in all of my years.

Then, an email came from my cousins. The title was “The Secret of Leap Years” and I thought it was a forwarded email of sorts. It was around 7.30 am, I was sleepy and opened it. My cousin had made a video of some really funny photos with some funny twisted stories, complete with wishes from my family. Goodness..that video made me laughed so hard and bawled like a kid. I don’t really know why I was bawling, and we were laughing it all off over Skype a few minutes later. He even bought a cake and 9 candles as ‘prop’, made his kids sing a birthday song and blow it for me just for the camera . LOL. That’s one birthday cake I DON’T get to eat.

The last message on the video was from Mak. It was a classic birthday message from her – it always end with a reminder on not forgetting God and prayers.

I will always remember Mak’s story about the day I was born. She said there has been a huge thunderstorm while she was in labour in that small clinic called Chong Clinic I think, and my late Mak Ngah was getting nervous for my birth. She made a nazar for Mak’s safe labour, and apparently after I was born – the storm subsided. In the midst of all these attention I am getting on this leap birthday, 2 women stay central in my heart.

Arwah Mak Ngah for her prayers for Mak, and my sweet mum for teaching me what Ihsan means even when I didn’t understand its true meaning then.

Thank you Allah for all your gifts. I have so much to be thankful for, and I pray You bless many others with the same, if not more.

Stalking Sarah

For those of you who know, Sarah Mclachlan is right up there in my list of singer/songwriter when it comes to great music. I had dreamt of interviewing her back in my newspaper days, was so close to buying a ticket with my bonus money just to attend Lilith Fair, and the first song I ever sang in public with a band was well, hers. It was Building a Mystery, and I have to credit a lot to SM’s guitar plucking and RLB’s bassline for covering my flaws. Yikes.

Yes, I really like Sarah’s music. A few years ago, I bumped into her in all of places, an Indian restaurant. Both of us were chomping on nans and curry. Ah, there is an achi in all of us after all.

I have always known she lives in Vancouver, but am not sure where. Then a few hours ago, I discover a real treat. Sarah lives in Dunbar, I am sure in a nice swanky home. We live in the same neighbourhood, in a much smaller part of a swanky home.

I am sure Sarah goes to Stongs to get her organic spinach, while I rumble through for lemongrass and mee kuning. Stongs is after all, a fixture for those who live around here and has the freshest produce I ever have seen. Would I say hello to her if I bumped into her at the supermarket – makcik style?I am not sure. “Eh Sarah…ikan naik harga hari ni lah!“, is not exactly musician-fan dynamic. Ah well.

Below is my favourite scene (and song!) from Juno. This was also shot in Dunbar. For those who wants to know what I meant by us living in a ‘much smaller part of a swanky home”, look at where Ellen Page is sitting, see that window underneath the upper level house, thats where we are (not in this house, but a few blocks away lah). I am sure Sarah’s house is a lot bigger with the royalties she is making.

I know the rent in this neighbourhood is overpriced but I just love the neighbourhood a lot more because Sarah lives here. Hah. That fish conversation might just happen soon. I am sure there is a minah in her too.

View in winter and summer

God’s Secret

This past month has been energy sapping, but the most fulfilling of 2008 so far. It is a strange combination of a very loose grip on what kind of certainty the future holds as well as resounding faith that He has a very big plan. The latter, excites DH and I of course. We are waiting, in firm faith, for the very gentle, enveloping wind.

We have had a very peaceful closure to losing Cookie to the urban jungle, and are very centered on the fact that he was either rescued and taken in by another pet-lover in the neighbourhood, or had died. Both ways, we are thankful for the many fun moments we had with him, even those days when he peed on our pants every time we try to take him to the vet! Those were the days. Cookie remains a special pet to both of us (although between DH and I, the number of pets we had combined can somewhat qualify to be a mini-zoo!). We remember him very fondly, and talk about him often. We left his fate to God, and make constant du’a for his wellbeing if he is alive. The rest, is really not in our hands.

In replacement, Smokey was sent our way. It was a very strange turn of events where Smokey, who lived in the Mission home, was left without anyone taking her in when we all moved out (she is fed and watched over while the house was in the market for sale). There were a few families interested to take her in, but my FIL (who loves Smokey dearly) was reluctant to agree. So her new home status was somehow left in the air. When Cookie went missing and the search for him remain fruitless, DH and I could not stop thinking that perhaps this is all God’s arrangement to ensure Smokey gets a new home, and that new home is actually ours. We took her in late December, and she has been the sweetest cat ever since. She is a hunter and was the one who taught Cookie most of his hunting and outdoor skills, when we all lived in Mission.

There are a few things brewing on the workfront, and I find it very rewarding navigating the maze. I am so thankful at how much help God has given me this past year, and how He guided me to tread the tempestous waters of TV broadcasting here. Such invisible hands. I really don’t want to lose that, insya’allah.

And so this entry was a quick insight that I felt during yesterday’s Tafsir class. I have been very mindful of the popularity of The Secret worldwide, and know of many instances where people attribute their new successes to The Secret’s principles of self-empowerment and visualing positive thoughts. On a very superficial level, critics would dismiss The Secret as a pop-version of positive thinking, without the psycho-babble. Normally, I would have been okay with that. But I felt that there was more, but I couldn’t point a finger at what it was that I find uncomfortable about The Secret.

Yesterday, I think I finally got it. It was this resting of your destiny and fate in your own hands, a manifestation of arrogance and pride – that does not rest well with me. It is antithetic to taqwa, in surrendering and remembering God. I want to work hard for my keep, only if God wills it and the keep makes me closer to Him. I am frightful of wanting something , that will make me loose that taqwa grip. It is so easy to do that. We are all no saints. I am sure we can agree on that at least.

So the principles of The Secret, if you are not careful, will bring you to that point where you do not surrender in its true sense. You can be whispering to yourself “I am visualising positive things, but I know God will determine if I get it or not” and think that is okay. Would that mean we are asking first, giving (to Him) second? I think so. Giving in this context refers to increasing our taqwa, abiding His commandments and contributing to the ummah.

I feel that if we ask the “universe” for what we want, as how The Secret people puts it – we are weaving a very thin line of arrogance (to God’s mercy) and ungratefulness (to what He has given us). Even if by the term “universe” – they are actually referring to God and making Him pop-culturish. It is like without paying the rent, you ask the houseowner if you can stay for the next year.

It is no secret that we have to say our thanks to God for many things, including your ability to move your eyes right now to read this blog post this far. Just check the 3 books of the world’s monotheistic faiths, and count how many times He asks mankind to remember and be thankful to Him.

And that, is no big secret.