The views expressed in our content reflect individual perspectives and do not represent the official views of the Baha'i Faith.
As I ready myself to move to an assisted living facility, I am looking around in my relatively small apartment in preparation for this, the last move before that permanent move we all must ultimately make.
I see so many things that at some points of my life I loved and cherished the memory of, which I will soon discard. I look back on my life and wonder about what I’ve really accomplished.
In one of my file cabinet drawers, I see the remnants of four academic degrees, the research papers I wrote, and a whole lot more, and as I gradually throw away the evidences of them, I’m surprised to feel absolutely no grief or regret. I realize that keeping them all these many years was just the heavy weight of a bunch of paper and books which, at this point of my life, have no value or significance.
With every piece I throw away, I feel lighter. A sense of freedom comes over me, and this release of the burdening of my soul and my emotions makes me happy. Finally, I’m at peace.
For one thing, those degrees and papers are so old that no one in his or her right or left mind would want my immature findings or the outcomes of my research, since we’ve seen such an explosion of new information since then. As far as the physical things in my apartment go, none of which I can or want to carry to my assisted living facility, I realize they have absolutely no significance or value – they feel foreign to me, and I cannot wait to get rid of them.
So, what do I have now, I wonder, that I can assume as my own?
Well, I have a great deal, so much that I cannot count. In the course of my life have accumulated a massive amount of actual lasting treasure – the love of the Baha’i Faith and Baha’u’llah; the dear, selfless friends who keep me on the straight path; and the lifelong bounty of serving the powerful ideals of my Faith – the oneness of humanity, global unity and peace, and love for all.
As my ability to physically help and serve others gradually diminishes, and yes, my memories, short term ones in particular, start to fail me, I am also learning something new – that I can tolerate my life’s losses more and more and actually laugh at them, wholeheartedly, because they really are funny.
I am happy about the move to a beautiful assisted living facility. I’m happy, too, for this opportunity that God, the All Merciful, has dropped in my lap. So now is the time I get to decide what to take with me – which will be very minimal – and also how to get rid of the remnants of what I have accumulated during almost 60 years of living in this part of the world. If we live long enough, we will all eventually face these kinds of decisions.
I remember when I left Iran, the country of my birth, with only a single half-filled suitcase. I remember just two years ago, when I sold my house and had to get rid of a great many things to come to the apartment where I live now. Today I have to give up the great bulk of my belongings, because where I am moving will be the last place I reside – beyond which will be my very last physical dwelling, which as a great person with a good sense of humor once said, is just six feet long.
I ask myself: how do I feel emotionally, and what am I learning?
It seems to me that none of us really wants to die, no matter the condition in which we find ourselves. But I don’t fear death. I feel so lucky to be a Baha’i, because Baha’u’llah wrote in The Hidden Words that:
I have made death a messenger of joy to thee. Wherefore dost thou grieve? I made the light to shed on thee its splendor. Why dost thou veil thyself therefrom?
With the joyful tidings of light I hail thee: rejoice! To the court of holiness I summon thee; abide therein that thou mayest live in peace for evermore.
I believe it, and I’m truly looking forward to going where that messenger of joy can give me the message I yearn for.
On the other hand, all of us do still want to keep a tight grip on living in this physical world. After all, it’s what we know. Some small part of me wants to hold on to my belongings, on the one hand, but on the other hand I am so happy not to do any more household chores and be burdened with the ownership of so much stuff. In other words, I feel a push and pull between my egoic self and my spiritual self.
It is interesting to me to observe firsthand this very personal struggle as a human being. I find that the more my spiritual self succeeds, the happier I am – and most importantly, the more I see the hand of our Creator in my happiness. When I’m forced to relinquish my egoic self and allow God’s will to direct me, it feels so wonderful to not have the responsibility of making these decisions by myself. Why struggle to have my own way, while our Creator can do for us in less than blink of an eye and the result will be million times better?
I do hope that I will continue to grow spiritually, so I am asking you all to pray for this wish, for me and for yourselves.