The hour will not begin until time passes quickly, so a year will be like a month will be like a week, and a week will be like a day, and a day will be like an hour, and an hour will be like the burning of a braid of palm leaves.Prophet Muhammad PBUH on the minor signs of the last day
The urgency of this hadith cannot be felt more this year which simultaneously feels like the slowest and the fastest year yet. I don’t think anyone would have anticipated most of 2020 to be spent staying home baking various types of bread and concocting sugared coffee, or manifesting one of the greatest ironies in life – social distancing – while granting our secret wish of having more personal space in this ever crowded city, or making ‘zoom’ probably the most widely used noun and verb of the year. All the important events and well-thought out plans that did not make through and which had us acquiesce in the maddening ‘new norms’, awaiting the denouement of this historical episode with the uncertainty of our fate, only revealed to us the realisation that there is nothing more precious than this one thing we have been taking for granted: life.
If someone were to ask me what would my highlight reel be for 2020, I’d say… this. This right now; me, sitting on my white IKEA chair, writing in my journal, a stack of unread books beside me, while ‘Cafe Ambience for Quarantine Corona Survival’ plays softly from my laptop. It is mornings spent running and trying out different routes, alone or with a friend. It is lying on my bed with a book in my nose, as my cat jumps on my stomach and insists for a nightly 10-minute cuddle. It is sending Whatsapp messages to say ‘I miss you’ or ‘Let’s meet soon’. It is none of the eventful things which had happened throughout the course of the year like my engagement, or my promotion, or my book selling around the world. The hallmark of 2020 to me will always be the glorious ordinary. The mundanity of the every day. The routines I might have since neglected, coming back to life again. The imagination I have let atrophied because I did not make the time for writing. The little insignificant moments that often go unnoticed, that pass by the day, are the highlights of my year. I’d like to think that I’ve become more acutely observant and grateful of the things in my immediate environment. Don’t get me wrong, I would still jump on the next flight to London or Istanbul, but I am quite content sitting here, on my chair, waxing poetic on the quotidian and scribbling in my thought journal, as the hands of the clock continue to move at fantastic speed. To be mindfully slow in a fast-paced, all-consuming world is a form of resistance. And I will continue to focus on what truly matters, if it means to resist.
What a time to be alive. For all that He has granted and denied me this year, I am still grateful to be alive. Many reroutes, but hope nudges me that hindsight’s always 20/20. Time will accelerate, the calendar will turn to a new page, things will change, but you will always have the power to carve your own slow space and take refuge in the eye of the hurricane, and tell yourself: Breathe easy. The morning is still here. As long as the hour is still ticking, there are books I have yet to read.