Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Measuring Success

Asim says there are two types of people in this world, those who follow Buddha's "Life is Suffering" approach and those who follow the "Life is bhangra" approach. Which category do you fall in?

Humera says the break down is goaldriven or experience driven. Experience driven people value life based on life's experiences. Goal driven people have "to do" lists and 5 year plans. Which category do you fall in?

Americans are by far goal driven people and success is the actualization of ambition whether it be an ivy league degree, the elusive MD, the new Benz, the bigger house. Success is important and to succeed one must be more ambitious than the next. Starting earlier than before. Oh to be a Soccer mom with a thousand errands to run in between driving the "mini-adult" six year old's to ballet, piano, karate lessons. You look at the race, see the pace and try to keep up so you don't fall behind.

Not everyone lives this way. Our driver in Puerto Rico shared stories of his kids in the US and when I asked him why he stayed he smiled sympathetically, "and leave paradise?" In Turkey I remember the restaurantier smiling as we walked in, greeting us not as patrons but long lost friends coming home. Success was walking down narrowed cobblestone walkways towards the Aegean sea and living fully. I saw pure joy more in one week in the eyes of strangers than in lifetime in the US. And just like the aura of "go go go" is contageous the aura of calmness is catching as well. And a whiff of it leaves you nostalgic for more. Perhaps its why I love Cafe Istanbul.

I can't help but wonder is this race in pursuit for sucess living? "Can money pay for all the days I lived awake but half asleep" Sometimes in the day's rush to get things done I forget to live in the present my body here but my mind and soul two minutes to two years ahead. Is that living? We have dishwashers and washing machines. Cars, planes and concords. Microwaves and cellphones. So why are there still not enough minutes in the day? Is it the day we should fault, or something terribly off in ourselves? Is it a coincidence that the U.S depite being the most affluent is the most depressed? (Nigeria the happiest)

For the first time in my life I dont have a five year plan. Will I be practicing law? dunno. Teaching? got me. Penguin trainer? Just as likely. It's a weird free falling experience not to know where your next step is. Like everyone I want success. The bigger question is, what is success? Is success trying my hardest next year to get the highest paying job I can find? Writing the hundreds of stories bursting at the seams in my mind? Going back to teaching the children I sometimes miss so much my heart aches? Having my own? Playing house? Is it less important what I accomplish and more important that I enjoy the time I have. I honestly don't know.


Jane said...

Your posts are so often thought provoking....I hope someday we will meet in person.

Anonymous said...

in most of the world people have longer vacations. america has the shortest vacation time for people and the longest work hours. more than the uk!

Aisha said...

Jane thanks... you've been reading my posts for a while so i'm sure you are not surprised by this post as it seems to be a recurring theme. hopefully i'll find an answer some day.

anon- yes i heard that. we only get about 2 wks, 3 wks if lucky, as a teacher and studnet my whole life i dont know how i could adjust to that change.

Just me said...

sits with legs atop each other ala Yoga style. Palms facing each other positioned in centre alignment with body flow.


repeats to herself,

ba eelllll

(making sure the tongue hits the upper roof)


Baaa elll learns.
Ba el learns.
bal learns.


*she now rests at peace*


Aisha said...

Dearest Rosie, dost thou mock me? :-/? :)

Bongi-Amma said...

Crazy, things i have been thinking about recently! Success is whatever makes your soul feel at rest. For me funnily enough that doesn't mean working in a hospital any more, not that i dislike it, but there's bigger things to be achieved :)

Huda said...

You know what Superman says... it's not the years that matter, but the moments! ;)

mezba said...

I found inspiration in the Indian movie Bluffmaster (of all places). Without giving spoilers, Abhishek has just found out he has terminal disease and has days to live. The doctor tells Abhishek -
"you lived for what, 30 years, right? How many days is that? And how many of those days were memorable? How many memorable things did you do?"

Baji said...

Asalaam Alaikum, Aishsa. I hope you are well. The post speaks truth. I have just returned from a two week vacation and am now running full speed to catch up. The amount of snide comments and dirty looks I have received for "daring" to take two weeks of rest with my family is unbelievable. Puritanical Americans don't allow for rest. Thus the work hard, play hard mentality which often leads to depression and dangerous behaviors such as drugs, drinking, sexual aggression, etc. Relax, Americans!

mystic-soul said...

What I have learnt from life is:

Happiness is not the goal of life, its a virtue of life to have.

(Khushi zindagi ka maqsad nahi wateerh hai)

There is no end to ambitions as Ghalib said:

Hazaaron Khwahishain aesi ke har Khwahish pe dam nikle
bohot nikle mere armaan lekin phir bhee kam nikle

Zak said...

I guess I am a mixture of both Khushi and blog title quote pretty much sums it up.

The comment about happiness goes with something I've been saying for sometime now..there is in fact a correlation between violence and growth..if you look at India more violence has happened since Indias boom then in the previous 30 years. Excessive materialism makes people more self centred and I would say helps dehumanise them...when you become dehumanised killing and hurting is easy

Tee said...

Success is happiness.

I have never lived the goal driven life. Maybe that's what has always made me feel different.

My friends went off to college and I stayed behind, just going with the flow and following my feet.

Maybe that's also why I've found life here in the United States generally unhappy as an adult. I'm tired of the whole "Keep up with the Joneses'" mentality.

Some of the happiest days of my life have been the ones I spent in other countries.

Oh, and thanks for the Primitive Radio Gods lyric. Man, I loved that song and forgot completely about it. We used to get so excited that they mentioned Baltimore (being a Marylander). LOL. Now I'll have "Do do do do doo do" stuck in my head.

Aisha said...

Zak, I think you're right, seeking materialism.. there's no ultimate joy at the end of it because they are outer things and not filling up anything in your heart. How cheesy :) But its true. Pakistan is also more dangerous now with street crooks and robberies than ever before... can't help but wonder if there's a correlation... The problem isn't the material, its the inadequacy we feel w/out the material and the way we let it define our status and what type of people we are that is leading to the unhappiness.

Tee, your comment hit home to me. I remember as a teacher in inner city schools I always tried to et it ingrained in their minds that they HAD TO GO COLLEGE because no one at home was encouraging it and I wanted someone to tell them it was a possibility. I would push push push them but you know it hit me a few months into it that in a way what I'm saying could hurt some of them who, college just isn't for them, I had to backtrac and explain that just because you dont go to college that isnt whats important its happiness and being a good person living an honorable life. I would hate to be the reason that a child would feel bad about themselves and the keeping up with the joneses mentality. Isn't it a shame that someone like you who enjoys life and is a good person has to feel unhappy because you're not a "go go go" type A person? there are some countries that you would fit right in for being that way. Take a trip to Puerto Rico! I'm telling you :) My bestfriend is moving back for the same exact reason.

Chic Mommy said...

If I could go back in time, I would have made a completely different pre-kids career choice. I worked till midnight somedays, and I still didn't get credit for the hard work I did. I hated my job, and was happy when I finally got to leave it when I had kids. But now, I hate staying at home with them, I wish I had a nanny who would give me a break so I could sleep. It seems in all of my jobs, I never got enough sleep. I'm still doing financial planning with the Roth IRA's, and 529's, to ensure we and our kids have a comfortable life when we get old, but what I would really like to do, if I didn't have to worry about money or childcare, is get a good night's sleep, and spend my days reading and writing on a tropical island, running in a field somewhere, or going to a bhangra party.

Anonymous said...

check yo mail, sis.

Shabina said...

this is a toughie. i remember how difficult it was a college senior not knowing what i'd be doing in six months. ironically, life has never been so different yet it feels like so much of the same.

i've got nothing wise to tell ya. just, enjoy what you have while you have it, and embrace the changes as they come.

Word. :)

Aisha said...

Bongi, maybe once you ar done with this stage you will be happy? Everytime I see doctors I think THAT is what I should have done. You're really really helping people lie that.

Huda, true :)

Baji, glad your trip went well. sorry you've had to hear such negative comments though, actually its interesting to me that i've heard that before from others, lie that snide comment or mean looks when someone was on a trip or something. Our culture whether we acknowledge it or not is very wound up and vacations are almost a sign of weakness!

Mezba, have you read Paul Coelho's "Veronia Decides to Die?" It sounds virtually identical. Is the ending a crazy crazy twist?

Mystic the last ghazal you quoted of Mirza Ghalib I recently heard and its my favorite one. It really really moves me.

Chic, wow well that makes me remember to at least appreciate the time I have to myself right now since I dont have kids yet. I'm sorry life is so hectic. I know you have twins so that must be very time consuming. A nanny ocassionaly isnt a bad idea though. I dont know why desis dont do it more.

Shabina, yes I felt that way too when I was graduating udnerrad1 you just wonder. Whats next since nothing is mapped out. It's quite a conundrum.

Ali- yeah I checked it now, sorry. I will reply by tonight insh'allah.

Marel Lecone said...

Probably the best post of anyone ever! Thanks so much! :)

Bongi-Amma said...

Don't get me wrong, i love what im doing and i love what i have chosen. Yeah you are right, at the moment im just the geeky student who can't really "do" much save chat to someone for 10 minutes. Lets see how work ends up :) Not long left now, *nervously bites her nails* and Hey if you think that, why'd ya not join med school? I know i don't know you but from what i read of you you sound like just the kinda person that would really enjoy medicine :)

Minka said...

I think I am somewhere in the middle. However, society pushes you in the direction of goal-ambitious. At a certain age you must have finished your degree, then find a spous, a good job and start a family. Earn loads of money and go once a year on vacation! If you donæt follow these you are somewhat "challenged" in people´s minds. We do want to be a part of society, that is why we make the compromise to fullfill many of these goals. But I love to look back on my life...see the hurdles I have overcome and be proud of where I am now.

Enyur said...

Hmm...somebody once said "When you look in your heart what do you wish you were doing right now? Not with your brain but your heart where would it be." AI ;-)

I'm going through same ordeal and I've now learned that success is definitely, where you find happiness. The ideal job is one that gets you out of bed every morning.

*hugs* You'll find you're destination too Insha'allah.

Mia said...

It almost sounds as if you’re in the same situation as I am, at a cross roads. I’ve been like that for the past few days maybe it has something to do with all the studying. As for the choices you mentioned I don’t think I fall into either category . I mean I do have my goals but making money is not one of them it’s not important to me as it seems to my friends. I have no interest in owning a house; becoming a soccer mom somehow I feel that is not what fate has in store for me. I just want to be able to help and save as many as I can while on this earth.

Tee said...

Aisha, I don't think it was wrong of you to put the idea of college into their heads - especially if the idea hadn't been put before them by their parents.

The kids should have all the choices and possibilities open to them and have the attitude, "si se puede" (yes, we can).

There's nothing wrong with having options, following dreams - if that is indeed their dream.

I had nothing against college -
I just didn't want to waste my parents money. LOL. I would like to go - but on my own terms.

I will take classes that interest me and not ones that are required to reach the number of credits to graduate.

It's the journey, not the destination :)

Aisha said...

Marel, wow that is high praise, not sure if I'm worthy, but thank you :)

Bongi- lol @ the me being a doctor.. i think now that i'm done with law school if i mention going back o school my parents might drive up and restrain me, lol. I have already thrown out phD and they were not too pleased. Eventually you must join the real world right? But insh'allah once things calm down in your end you'll like it, once you're in charge:-)

Minka yes, the expectations can be quite overwhelming!

Enyur, ouch hate it when my own words come to bite me in the butt!! lol. You're right. I guess its not that I dont know what I want, its just that life seems to get in the way :)

Mia, from knowing you online I gather you are one of those people who have the happy medium b/w "goal,experience" driven way of life. Mash'allah :-)

Tee, yeah ofcourse, I know what you mean, i dont know if you read but there was a postcard from a kid who said his parents emphasised college so much that he feels a failure though he succeeded otherwise but never went, it was that fear that made me backtrack a little :) but yes it is about the journy not the destination :)

Maleeha said...

right now my plan is to do not tank completely on the finals. thats my 5 day plan. 5 year plan? God only knows ;) i hear ya sister.

HijabMan said...

Asim is right. And I would fall into the Bhangra category :)

And maybe the goal is that you love/enjoy what you accomplish :)

I find that when given a choice between two things.. the answer is always a mix of both. Nature or Nurture? Both. Accomplishments, or Happiness? Both :)

:) Fan of your blog, will link it soon. when mine is in order

Champ - Love Hound said...

Aisha Dear! believe me I don't get it, I don't understand when people say that they don't 've time for things. I'm a busy person myself but I never felt like not havin' time for things.

My day start with Pray 'n' nice breakfast, I work in Stock Exchange, I work out in Gym everyday, I'm member of Multi Religious Peace Concil, I do enjoy music 'n' stuff, I do enjoy sports, I give time to family 'n' friends, I do alot many things 'n' my day end with Pray.

Success is what you get out of your time 'n' what you make out of your time. Though there 're very few pwoplw who can enjoy this success Myth.

Thankyou for the comments on my blog 'n' I hope you 're doin' good. *Smiles*
God bless you.....

Morningdew11 said...

Salaam. Everyone has something to say about this topic... Its on every student's mind for sure. I worked in a hospital for a while, then in research, and later became a stay-home mom... I'm back in school to teach now, and I find the kids are constantly asking me my opinion on the topic as well..What should they become? How do I measure success? Is it money, the clothes you wear, etc., or to become famous, and make more money??? LOL. Like those were the only two options. I often answer their questions, with questions, just to get them thinking. Like, would they consider someone successful based on what they gainn for themselves, or based on what society gains because of them? For the kids whose main focus is name brands, and different athletes, I ask them about how they know so much about that particular person, and buy all their clothing, so that that person can make more money, but what is that athlete doing for them?

One thing I learned early, that has kept me grounded, is a course I took in Univ., on Islamic Mysticism. In it we studied various people, and one of the books I thoroughly enjoyed, and still read today, is al-Ghazali's Alchemy of Happiness. You should read it one day when you have the time. :)


Bongi-Amma said...

oh, you're nearly finished with law school? i was under the impression you had just started!

I do enjoy medicine, i do i do!!! lol, i hope im not coming across as not enjoying it, i just dont think i want to be uber career orientated tho, cos having a family is much much more important to me.

Enyur said...

Yeah, I know what you mean. I wish I could do more in my day than just sit at my desk. Something meaningful.

rehtwo said...

I don't think it's a coincidence at all. Even when we get what we want, we can't take the time to enjoy it, for we immediately have to get back in pursuit of the next goal, whatever that may be.

Anonymous said...

its important to change things up. sometime we are goal oriented with 5 yr plans and in some other stages we are not. We all have purposes in life i belives. Some is drive taxis, run restaurants, sing, and write. and whatever our pruprose we will be happy

Aisha said...

Maleeha, yeah one day at a time is probably the smart idea :) Happy studying!

Hijabman yes, a moderate blend of the two is the best but to *some* degree I think we're hardwired leaned to one way or the other. Like someone might be an actor which was their dream but thye can't live in the moment thinking of the next movie though they love what they're doing then and there you know? But yes middle road should be the goal. Thanks for your kind words about my blog, yours is great!

Champ, yes its rare to find the two together, good ot konw you're trying to get there :)

Morningdew, salaam, those are some AWESOME questions you asked your students. Makes me so nostalgic to be a teacher again!!! :) Is the alghazali book a big thick black one? My parents are mailing me two volumes of "history of ismalic philosophy" and it has a lot of ghazali in it. Is is it in there you think? Thanks for the recomendation!

Bongi I'm in my second year and law school is three yrs. Bongi yeah as a doctor/lawyer type of job its hard to balanced with family etc. but thats good you now your priority, by knowing it you will mae your life fit that priority insh'allah!

Enyur, well yo'ure getting there :)

Rehtwo, maybe hardwired from anscenstory maybe of being always in the need for more to surivive that we can't seem to shake our hardwired nature??

Anon, beautifully stated :)

Tee said...

I do read postsecret once in awhile - hadn't seen that postcard. I really like the ideas people have for the artistic aspect of those post cards.

Morningdew11 said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Morningdew11 said...

Let me try reposting this. That book may be in there. The Alchemy of Happiness (Kimiyah al-saadat) is not that thick. Its just a little book, my copy only has 122 pages. :) You can read it online: The volumes your parents are sending you, may have it... but even if they don't, they may be sending you his other great works. All his writings are worth reading. I just thought the one I stated was most relevant. There's also the Deliverance from Error, On Death and the Afterlife, Breaking the two Desires, The Niche for Lights, etc.... He wrote on just about every topic in his Revival of the Religious Sciences volumes. :)

Just me said...

AISHA! I wasn't mocking You per say.. but was just being notti, having fun... I swear I didnt mean to mock! I could have written a one liner as in 'Balance is Key' but it sounded so bla so I...

*finally catches a breath*


*looks down*
*shuffles feet, shuffles feet*

ASH said...

Ironically Asim and I discussed this a week or two ago. I think we covered the ideas we have on whether life is suffering or whether life is a series of tests some painful...some successful.

But I am not sure that you have to be either goal oriented (5 year plans) or base your life on experiences. I am both at the same time....I enjoy the moment, I live for new things to come my way unexpectantly....but I also make plans (detailed plans) for the future. If the plans don't work shrug...and make new plans based on the new realities.

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