Have you ever thought about your “perfect” day? Have you considered recording —in detail— what this day would look, feel, even smell like? (Mine smells like coffee and gardenia. It includes copious amounts of salty body fluids too that on occasion have been known to smell.) Dreaming and scheming are an essential stage of our human metamorphosis. Whether we like to admit it or not, we are in a constant state of growth. Some of us are thrown in the centre of the washing machine drum. Others are softly rocked to the tunes of classical music. Both teams are moving.
“Your job is to try out imaginary scenarios until you have a clear picture of your goals and desires. You’ll save a lot of time, effort, and grief by giving yourself time to do this in your head before you attempt it in the real world.”
This exercise is entirely within our control. We create the reality —any reality we want albeit in our heads and possibly on to our blog. Because it is ours, we are free to soar with it to new heights. The thought of this makes my heart smile. And a little anxious. You see, it is a deeply personal exercise. Can we keep it between us?
My eyes open —unprompted— a minute before the alarm rings. My alarm is a vintage, analog clock that used to belong to my dad. It has always been set at 4.15am, for his perfect morning of fajr (sunrise) prayers before he walked our two wild, German shepherds while the neighbourhood slept, leaving him, the dogs, the birds, and the rising sun to offer prayers for the world. The fact that the alarm setting has never been changed comforts me as I reach to switch it off before it wakes up the house. Without hesitation, my feet weightlessly touch the warm tiles as I excitedly rise for my perfect day. While my perfect coffee brews, I squeeze the perfectly juicy lemon that I just picked from the lemon tree in the garden for my warm lemon water. It’s still dark. I have plenty of time for sunrise prayers. The house is quiet, save for the soft breath of my sweet girls: peaceful, innocent, loving. I remind myself to engrave that image in my mind. I need those saved files to call up when they make parenting a challenging feat. In their sleep, they are all mine. In their sleep, I can smell their skin, stroke their hair, and devour every detail of their hands.
My husband is up with me. A stack of this morning’s newspaper sections magically makes its way onto the coffee table. The sections are brimming with news. Glorious news. Thought-provoking editorials. I first reach for the wellness supplement. On this perfect day, I find a moving, inspirational piece on gratitude. It is so touching it brings tears to my eyes. It makes my heart literally expand until it pushes against my chest. In those shy tears, there are tiny molecules of my own little gratitudes, especially for this moment of peace, perfectly set in soft light, coffee aroma, and love not only pushing against my chest but sitting right there by my side. When I make my way to the front page, two headlines jump at me:
All Nations to Hold a Compassion Summit in Yemen
International Court of Human Rights Rules for Immediate Release of Child Prisoners
Happy and full, I start to get ready for my day. My yoga leggings slip on effortlessly. I do not feel the need to check myself in the mirror. Barefoot and weightless, mindful of the warm tiles, I make my way down to my sanctuary (yoga studio). I quietly light the candles, burn the incense, and get onto my mat. I sneak a peak at the space, admiring the glowing faces of my yoga family sitting in meditation as the soft orange light of the rising sun starts to wrap itself onto the flickering candles. My meditation is glorious. I lose all sensation in my body. No sore hips, numb legs, or aching glute. I also lose all sense of time. I am transported to another realm, only to be guided back by a soft bell and the soothing voice of my teacher. I know he has been to the same realm. I can hear it in the frequency of his voice. He leads me and my yoga family through a 45-minute pranayama (expanded breathing) practice that culminates in my favourite breathing exercise bhastrika, which takes me onto a wild energy-building, heart-expanding, soul-stirring, Grace-inviting journey that brings back those same shy, grateful tears into my eyes and out through every pore on my skin.
Don’t you know that sweat is your skin’s tears of gratitude?
As I lift my arms toward the heavens and plug my fingers into the universe, I feel the reassuring embrace of the warm earth beneath my weightless feet. I sway in a dance of prayer. I lose —again— all sense of time and feeling. I am one with the universe. Again, my spiritual Sherpa brings me back. I lay on my mat in complete stillness, feeling a rush of warm blood flow through my aching glute. My body is weightless, as it lays on the warm floor. For the third time this sunrise, I am expanded to other worlds, brought back, and reminded that I am alive, reborn, and throbbing with gratitude. As I make my way up from the ground, I rise up stronger, softer, and lighter. On this perfect day, I am quiet. I want to savour this sense of peace and fulfillment.
90 minutes of a challenging yoga asana practice-later, I am back on my mat integrating my practice. My mat is wet —from tears and sweat. Every muscle in my body is throbbing with joy. As I steady my breath, and try to quiet my dancing mind, I surrender to the confident voice as it guides me to relax in savasana (corpse pose —final resting pose in yoga practice). I find it challenging to switch off this time. I want to break into dance —victory dance. I have just summited my own Everest. In this practice, my guide’s support was unwavering as I ventured onto new heights. The Grace that nourished my cells in bhastrika carried my hips back and forth as I effortlessly transitioned from posture to posture. My rebirth is complete this perfect morning. I wipe my mat, tears still flowing, deeply aware of myself. The world is moving in slow motion. And I am connected to everything unfolding around me. I float to the kitchen for a nutritious whole, plant-based meal with both my families. The conversation is at times funny, at others deep and thoughtful. It is a meeting of the universe.
It is 10.30am. I am in my “office”. The papers I need are neatly laid out. My computer is charged. The screen is clean. The keyboard is smooth. There are no peanut butter-stained fingerprints anywhere. My desk is clean. No storage boxes stuffed with rubbish block my leg room under the desk. (In my perfect day, I have no hoarders in my family.) I light another candle. The room is perfectly warm. And bright. I can not only hear but see the birds chirping on the neighbour’s terrace. The hills around me are green, a reminder of the stark contrast to snow-capped summits conquered earlier. It’s peaceful. The words flow out of me. Again, I lose track of time and space.
My phone has not rung all morning. I have not been on social media. No mass, junk messages have been received. By 2pm, I have poured 2000 —good—words into my laptop. My project is coming to life.
I have my perfect lunch alone —relatively speaking. That is when I give myself permission to go on social media. I allow myself another cup of coffee after lunch as I consider my outfit for the afternoon event. In my head, I am confident that if I speak from the heart, it will ring true. I am sure people won’t mind if I mis-pronounce a chemical or get a statistic wrong. This time, I look in the mirror. I want to be myself: natural and effortless —despite the effort. I come with wrinkles, dimples, and grey hair. Still, on my perfect day, I want to feel good.
I arrive at a magnificent venue, decorated with fresh gardenias and hydrangeas. We are sitting in a circle with hundreds of people. There is no stage. Everyone is the centre of attention. Every face I see is alight with passion and curiosity. There are as many men as women, of all sizes and ages. Around me are real, inspiring souls whose work has made an impact on the world. They represent a host of nations —the same nations attending the compassion summit in Yemen. Some, including myself, are invited to share our stories. We are telling our individual stories, but really telling the story of all of us. A discussion follows. The entire space is uplifted —and weightless. People tell me they are inspired. They get it. Compassionate living choices make the world a better place. They are committed. And full. And peaceful. And weightless.
I make it back home in time to get ready for swimming. I have two swim suits to choose from —and they are not black. I pick the blue. It slides on as easily as my yoga leggings this morning. I do not need to look in the mirror. My feet are still weightless, floating on clouds as I dive gracefully into my lane. There is no doubt in my heart that I can get through this training, effortlessly deciphering the drills outlined on the white board, which until my perfect day were written in swim master code. My butterfly stroke is exquisite. (Michael Phelps can learn a thing or two from this master on her perfect day!) I never once glance at the clock, because time stops again. When practice is done, my arms are not fatigued. Instead, they are weightless and strong as they lift me out of the pool. I have enough time to chat with my swim family. It is another conversation of inspiration and respect.
As my perfect day comes full circle, I am back in my soft, warm bed. I have barely touched my phone all day. My vintage alarm clock is at my bedside table. I am back next to my love. The tears have dried up. In their place, there is a smile that is born in the corner of my eyes. It comes from the same home as the tears. It is not the destination because I am right back where I started. It is about every —weightless— step of the journey, and the supportive voices along the way. It is about the warm glow of the family that walks by your side. And it is about finding a platform to share those lessons in hopes of inspiring others to find the weightlessness and savour the strength.
My teacher advised me this morning to “nix the pageantry of perfection.” He is right. There is no perfect perfection. But as a wise John Legend once said, there are “perfect imperfections,” the ones riddled with tears, sweat, effort, humility, and realness. It is about finding the right path to encompass who I am and my contribution. This is my perfect day. In my dream, I am free to construct an International Human Rights Court and a peaceful Yemen open for business —compassionate business. In my mind, compassion makes headlines.