By Sofia Babool
When suddenly the most exotic foods are being delivered, or when your doctor tells you to facetime him for your annual checkup, it’s strange to fully understand the extent to which change occurs so quickly.
Two years ago on this day, my family and I were not at home listening to the news, but rather in Houston receiving the presence and blessings of Hazar Imam. While I can remember that day like it was yesterday, this Navroz I had a stroke of realization that while being at home was not ideal on New Year’s Day, the day could still be well spent.
Navroz, for me, has always held some aura of happiness even if the day itself has tribulations. Knowing that it was Navroz seemed to set off this automatic reminder to everybody around me to “make the day good” no matter what occurred. This idea of “make” made me realize that I had the potential to make something better; if I could control my behavior, attitude, and language, I had control of the day and all that it had to bring.
This year, March 21st brought more devastating news about COVID-19; the news kept blaring with the number of people infected, those that had died from the virus, and predictions about where it would travel. Continuous news about washing your hands for 20 seconds and not touching your face seems to be almost religiously recited no matter what channel or what time of the day the news is presented. While I had never been sitting home saying Dua on a day that invites social interaction, a review of resolutions for the upcoming year, and the reminiscing of the beauties of one year gone by, it was nonetheless one more day with my family over dinner; one more day with my family reviewing resolutions; one more with my family reminiscing about the beauties of the previous year. Yes, COVID-19 disrupted our lives, our normal routine, our very basis of living in a society that works, breathes, and plays together. But at the end of the day, the power of making it a good day is up to us; choosing to live this time with purpose and fulfillment is up to us and nobody can take that power away. Deciding to spend this time on personal development, virtual interactions with friends you’ve forgotten, or simply meditating, is a choice.
I should, first of all, advise my heirs to learn to desire the thing that happens, and not try to mold events to their desires…. My Philosophy of Happiness by Imam Sultan Muhammad Shah, Aga Khan III
Although we will always remember these few weeks of March, it is not be remembered as weeks of eerie quietness or time wasted, but rather as weeks of innovation, compassion, and global hope. As the Aga Khan III has stated, “I should, first of all, advise my heirs to learn to desire the thing that happens, and not try to mold events to their desires…. I say that you should endeavor to suit your desire to the event, and not the event to your desire….” Therefore, as we wake up each morning with the understanding that we are limited in where we can go, what we can do, and who we can meet, we are nevertheless invigorated by this time to ourselves. Yes, this event was not predictable or even desirable, but nonetheless, our reaction to it will determine how we live as together, individually. What is your philosophy of happiness?
Sofia Babool is currently a sophomore at UT Dallas (The University of Texas at Dallas). Prior to starting at UT Dallas, Sofia had the opportunity to deliver a Ted Talk on the perspective of “underdeveloped countries” during her senior year of high school. At UT Dallas she writes for the school paper “The Mercury”.