They say that over 100 billion people have ever lived with 7 billion alive today. Every single person – living or dead – has teetered or continues to teeter on a precarious tightrope of life. To make firm our footing and balance our steps, we anxiously look for that tailored magic pole. Walking the tightrope compels us to fix our gaze straight ahead on some personal objective: a little pinpoint image of the distant end of the rope. As the walk gets progressively longer, so do the inevitable challenges and obstacles that will potentially test our mettle. At times, we bemoan our progress as our focal vision is fixed and benchmarked at the backs of those in front of us – without realising the challenges that they had to endure to muster the necessary energy to take that one next step.
But more importantly, in the midst of everything, we fail to recognise that those behind us are in all likelihood dealing with far unimaginable adversities. Difficulties that undoubtedly would have jolted and thrust a great number of us into the void. Just as being alive is an invitation to heartbreak so is the uniqueness of everyone’s lived experience. These experiences engulf us and make their marks with distinctive dents. Whether it is the unbearable pain and fear that tens of thousands of children in China have to endure as their parents are detained in internment camps. Or the deep sense of failure felt by parents in Yemen’s civil war, as they inherit the ultimate perversion of war: burying their children in makeshift graves. Or the anguished and lonely pain felt by children who realise that their parents are no longer in this world. Or the deep sadness experienced by couples that can’t have their own biological children. Or the mounting guilt that terminally patients shoulder for mistakenly believing that they are an unwanted burden to their families. Or the ‘forever stuck’ loop that nourishes the depressed mind. Everyone…feels.
So as we tread the tightrope of life, we have to be aware that everyone – including us – is battling something. By being empathetic and mindful we can gradually stretch our bounded reality and develop a sense of gratitude that ultimately makes the journey much more comfortable – and hopefully with a renewed sense of appreciation. And whilst it’s fairly easy to resign to the belief that our personal journeys are often lonely and without a perceivable safety-net in sight; someone is indeed near and watching. Just like how children feel safe and secure when their parent is watching them, we experience the same comfort of safety when we remember Him. Not only in our darkest hours but also in our happiest moments.
“…Indeed Allaah is ever watching over you” (4:1)