“There is a candle in your heart, ready to be kindled.
There is a void in your soul, ready to be filled.
You feel it, don’t you?” – Rumi
I love my bubble. I love this translucent, beautiful, idealized space that I perceive as my own, in which my greatest worries revolve around writing religion papers, surviving chemistry labs, and performing chest compressions on plastic dummies in EMT class. In my bubble, I endlessly distract my lovable roommate and good friend with ramblings about my day. I walk to classes and meetings in my mom’s long overcoat with a Sherlock scarf around my neck and nothing but a slightly stressed yet hopeful feeling in my heart. The world seems to revolve around me.
My name is Farah and I am a Strong house girl. I love to read, write, sing, knit, and most of all, spend time with my wonderful family and friends. I’m a proud Muslim-American—which could raise a whole other topic of discussion—and a strong advocate for interfaith dialogue.
I wish I could more easily proclaim my involvement in the community. I wish I could say that I thought more about others and less about myself—but I don’t. One of the reasons I chose to attend Vassar—besides its energy, diverse student body, and academic prestige—was its proximity to my home. I return home at frequent intervals due to terrible homesickness. Yet every time I leave campus grounds, I experience a sudden feeling of wonder that yes, a world does exist beyond the Retreat’s lunch rush hour, the roaming womp womps, and the hours of studying under a starlit library window. I remember that reality, as wonderful as it seems inside the Vassar bubble, becomes distorted under this illusion of me, my schedule, myself, and I.
On Monday night, I attended my first meeting with Hunger Action—a group I meant to join last semester but couldn’t because of scheduling. Hunger Action promotes actively engaging with Poughkeepsie’s hungry and homeless by serving weekly meals at local soup kitchens and collecting old clothes for donation, among other commendable efforts. I reserve special admiration for this type of philanthropy because it’s just so… selfless.
With good intention, I attended this first meeting only to discover that the meeting time clashes with those of other organizations with which I’m involved. Nonetheless, the experience humbled me. It humbled me to the point where I realized that, at the same time I start complaining when the Deece runs out of hummus, families within a short distance of campus wonder when they will get their next meal.
I don’t blame Vassar for this cognitive dissonance—it’s not the school’s fault that it provides such a happy, intellectual, and sheltered environment. No, I blame myself.
I don’t mean to sermonize, moralize, lecture, or whatever you may call it. I simply aim to critique my own actions and behavior, alight the consciousness of a generation bright and full of promise, and express my utmost admiration for everyone on campus involved in any remotely humanitarian efforts. For the last couple of months, my family life has revolved around prolonged illness. Only when I return to this atmosphere at home do I appreciate the few thousand days of which we all must take advantage before losing that energy and strength.
To those of us who think we have too many time commitments to engage in these acts of generosity, I hope that we can start with small steps. Holding the door open for someone in a hurry, smiling at a random stranger, and surprising a friend with an unexpected text of “How’s it going?” all qualify as thinking beyond our own busy lives. I try to remember that if life really revolved around me, then I would be the only person on the planet.
I wasn’t sure which route this blog would take. I initially contemplated blogging about my experiences as a Muslim on campus and interactions with other Religious and Spiritual Life (RSL) communities. But somehow, this post came about. As cliché and idealized as it may sound, I hope the future of this blog will inspire and remind us all to take a moment out of our hectic lives to stop and smell the flowers, or to admire the falling snow coating the pavements in soft, fairy-like fluff. Until my next post, I send love, hope and good tidings along your path.