Someone else’s language

There is something energetic about sitting for class at 6 am in the morning, 2 days a week. A tutor with a crisp English accent,a lecturer who is so systematic and gentle and classmates who are ever-so-cheerful, regardless of what the time is wherever they are. Other than our Tafsir classes at Zawiyah Foundation, this new one is something I look forward to as well.

Learning another language is a challenge at this age – and this particular language that DH and I are learning at Sunnipath Academy has almost reverse rules to Malay and English. But we are determined, so we’ll see how far we can go. I have been very impressed with the quality of the teachers and how the academy is run. You should really check it out.

Talking about someone else’s language, have you ever thought that the voices talking to you in your head is a language that needs to be broken down and tamed? I recently came to this, thanks to trying to live a life of ‘spending the day in syukr (gratefulness) and spending your nights in dzikr (rememberence)‘. We were taught recently that God has made set out the purpose of life so simply and eloquently, but it is us who confuse it with our wants and our nafs (desires).

Which brings me to the point that our nafs is a language on its own. I have been trying to tame it – and my first stop is the pumping music in the car. It is hard to be in the state of syukr and gratefulness while you are driving, when there your heart is singing to the melody of the song instead of being still. I need to be still internally to reflect and consequently, be thankful.But when my heart is singing away….it is simply a noisy heart. My nafs want to listen to music almost in an instant when I get into the car, and when I do hear it – it literally feels good. That’s years of my nafs training ME that music soothes my soul. How on earth did my nafs rule over my own state of stillness, which is our best state? Freaking scary.

I am trying to reverse that, simply because I want to be still. It is uncanny that this blog was named Still Thinking even before I acquire this knowledge about the importance of having stillness in your heart. At that time, I wanted to play with the paradox of me still thinking about things around me and reflecting, and the state of not moving your thoughts beyond what is already there.

Back to training the nafs. So out of this little internal jihad, I had to psychoanalyse and break down HOW my nafs speak to me. You have to know the enemy, kan? Man, did I discover what a language it is! I had spent 30 over years of my life helping it to develop its own language. It does not speak to me, it SHOUTS. It sounds more familiar than my own mother tongue.

So now, to manage it (just like the new language I am learning at Sunnipath) I have to break down the language so I can manage it. I literally had to re-program the level of noise it creates, and that is a challenge.

I know I am talking metaphysics here…..but I think most of us have been giving our nafs too much room to develop :), to the point that it is its own language in our psyche. I just want to share what I discovered. Try sitting still and not have music, visual stimulus around you. Better still, face a wall and try to be quiet and be completely still inside. Then listen to what your heart is talking/thinking about – you’ll have an idea of how ‘noisy’ your heart is cause your nafs are too busy having a party, shouting and screaming away.

Food for thought, eh?

I have lost my cool-factor

And so the garden project has been on for the past 3 weeks…and the tomato plants were growing spendidly. I checked for flowers and new shoots every morning, like a mother hen looking for worms. Yikes. Very obsessive, this gardening thing.

Our bedroom window opens to the balcony, and my daily routine now has been somewhat pathetic. Instead of heading straight to the washroom when I get out of bed, I flip the blinds to see if the plants in the balcony are errr…ok. I will look and look for a good 5 minutes, squinting my eyes. I am sure DH felt like saying, “Don’t worry, your plants are still there!” repeatedly…but he wouldn’t want to sound like a broken record because I will still peep out of the balcony anyway.

I now know about plants, flowers, container gardening, pinching tomato suckers and deadheading flowers more than I ever did in my entire life. I was beginning to feel like an old lady, until an ex-schoolmate who is now living in the UK – talks abt her obsession with pinching and poking her plants every morning too. We both agreed that gardening has spiralled our cool-factor 2 notches down. Sad state.

Anyway, there is a really gorgeous Siamese twin gerbera daisy growing in one of my pots. Very sweet…as the lower bloom is constantly fighting for sun-exposure with the upper bloom . She is often sad, and her petals droop often. Kesian. I’d really love to help her get as much sun as her older twin…but I don’t know how to do that without having to conduct surgery and break their enjoined hips apart.

Smokey is enjoying the balcony garden very much, and often kepo around the pots and do her smell-check. We grew a small pan of cat-grass for her…and she loves it. The things I do for the cats…sigh.

I really hope my Tomato Project bears fruit (lame, lame pun). Serious. My Singaporean kiasu side decided to have it all – I have 3 varieties of tomatoes planted, Cherry tomatoes, Beefsteak tomatoes (huge, round ones) and Lemon Boy tomatoes (yellow, round tomatoes). I named the Lemon Boy tomato plant ‘Fazimato’ – after Fazi, my oldest friend from childhood. We used to live in the same kampung. I planted the Lemon Boy on her birthday, May 21st. Since I didn’t get her anything for her birthday, I called her in SG and announced I am naming a tomato plant I am planting that day after her. Only childhood friends can get away with weird gifts like that.
I wonder how many more plants I have to name.

All these after an initial strategy to impress Mak and Busu when they are here. Talk about over-doing it !