‘Why do some things in life not work out the way you want them to?’ said the boy.
‘How do you know that was what you really wanted?’ asked the girl.
The boy momentarily froze. This had never occurred to him. If he got what he wanted, it made him happy. If he didn’t get what he wanted, it made him sad.
The boy looked at the blue lake in front of him. A gentle evening breeze rippled across the water disturbing its clarity. He turned to look at the girl—his sister. She seemed deep in thought. She looked peaceful and he could see the reflection of the pool of water in her eyes. Here he did not see any ripples in the water. It seemed clear.
‘How would I know that?’ he asked her.
‘How would I know that?’ she repeated, but now it was a different question. She wanted him to find the answer himself. The boy frowned at her so she just smiled, and the boy decided he’d think about it.
Some time passed with the boy deep in thought. It was a warm evening. A dragonfly buzzed past, its wings shimmering with the light of the setting sun. Across the lake a loud family of Myna birds glided home to the comfort of their nests, now being gently warmed by the last rays of the day.
A thought seemed to flash across his mind and he rested his face between his hands. Whatever it was it seemed to weigh down on him.
‘If what I want is not really what I want then how would I ever know whatever it is that I want to be the thing I really want…?’ he thought aloud.
‘Well, you see, that’s the beauty of it,’ she replied.
He shook his head, let out a loud exasperated sigh and ranted, ‘It is confusing, befuddling, perplexing, highly irritating, and my brain cells are on the verge of contemplating riot against me and you thinks it’s beautiful?!’
‘And it’s making my head ache,’ he added for good measure.
‘Okay… let me ask you something, little brother. You might find it a bit strange.”
‘What do you find beautiful?’
He looked at her incredulously and decided not to reply. Either he was thinking or had deemed the question as most absurd and ignored it completely. It was getting dark now. The sun was now hidden behind trees across the lake. They could hear the chirping of the insects and an owl hooted somewhere in the distance.
She smiled at him, ‘All right, I’ll choose something and we’ll both agree that it is beautiful for the sake of argument.’
‘It’s a sunny day and both of us return home after going for a walk through the trail in that forest, not far from our house. We go in and sit in the living room and decide not to take our sunglasses off. Madagascar, the movie, is playing on TV. It had been really sunny so we had chosen very dark-tinted sunglasses. Enter Mort. Do you know Mort?’
‘The big-eyed cute thing?’ he said, amused at the choice of character to take stage.
‘Yep, the big-eyed cute thing,’ she laughed. ‘Now we still haven’t taken our sunglasses off and the movie is in 3D. Mort comes on TV but we don’t recognise him to be the cute cuddly thing everyone knows and loves. It all seems blurry. Unclear. And dark.’ She looked at him. He was listening attentively. She continued, ‘Do you see the problem? We cannot appreciate Mort for the cuteness he is because there is a problem in the way we’re looking at him.’
She turned so that she was facing him directly. He was listening intently, patiently waiting for her to carry on.
She smiled at him and continued, ‘Reality is, mostly, not as we perceive it to be. We view it through lenses painted by our current state of mind. There are many shades of interpretation and sometimes we need to change the lenses with which we view the world. We will not understand the wisdom behind every moment in time unless He blesses us with the ability to discern between what is reality and what is, in reality, a figment of our imagination.’
The sun suddenly appeared through a break in the trees. It had almost disappeared behind the horizon but it treated them to a brilliant display of color; the world basked in the golden hue of the summer sun.
He furrowed his brows, ‘So how would we know what we really want?’
‘Well, that’s a bit harder to know, and it takes quite a bit of work and effort,’ she said letting out a long sigh.
Everything seemed quiet. It was as if the whole world was listening. Even the boisterous little Myna birds had stopped stepping on each other’s heads. The Myna mum and dad looked pleased.
After a brief pause she continued, ‘You see, what we understand depends on the state of our heart… So the better I make myself the less cluttered my heart will become, and the more clear my view of the world and the better I would understand things.’
‘You see, no one can ever be sure that their heart is at its best. I remember hearing once that if you think your heart is safe then that’s probably when it’s at its most vulnerable state and sometimes the furthest away from being good—because you are being arrogant.’
He thought about it for a while, ‘So… what I need to do is to try and make sure that I keep my heart at its best and put my trust in Allah to help me to see everything for what it really means. And He will help me to realise what it is that I really need.’
Her face broke into a wide smile, ‘No one loves you more than Allah. No one cares for you more than Allah. No one knows what is best for you except Allah. Even we don’t know what’s best for us most of the time. But He does—always. He knows what is best for you, when it’s best for you, where it’s best for you and in what way it’s best for you. All you need to do is just hand it all to Him and He’ll take care of it all and give you, without doubt, what is best for you.’
He pulled a face at his sister and grinned—something he always did when she made him see things clearly. She smiled at him and beckoned him to look at the lake.
The water was now clear.