One of the biggest flaws of human nature is we become so used to what surrounds us, no matter how incredible it may be, and we forget how miraculous it is. Every single morning, the entire scope of the horizon drips with gold, rose, violet and monarch orange. The sun lights the sky into a blue powerful enough to illuminate the entire world around us from millions of miles away. After reverting back to a marble of warm and cool colors, the sky darkens into pitch black and glitters with stars, encompassing a moon that illuminates the stillness of the night. In a world that’s been incredibly industrialized, with every other corner a construction site or an office building, the constancy and simplicity of the sky’s presence have always reassured me. It’s amazing to think that when we look above, that same sun, moon and sky has been over the human species since we began to exist. When you need to escape from the rush of your life, just look up and take it in. Take in the fact that there is a whole other realm above you whose sunshine and rain mimic the fluctuation of human emotions. It goes through its ups and downs, the sun rises and sets, the sky shines and rains, the moon appears full one night and then disappears the next, just like the way we feel can change within every given moment. The sky connects us to a network much larger than just the human species or other living organisms. It lets us look up and see a part of the universe within us. Or, as Rumi says, “To see the moon that cannot be seen, Turn your eyes inward and look at yourself, in silence.”
There are hundreds of kinds of flowers, all of which come from a seed, and yet bloom unique from one another. There is a surprising amount to learn if we observe the process in which flowers grow. They start rising after they’ve been buried, and are completely unseen to the eye until they sprout above the ground just the tiniest bit, eventually turning into a fragrant, beautiful, vibrant flower that people stop to stare at. It serves as a reminder that we, like flowers, still have the chance to flourish even after we feel like we’ve been beaten down. Starting from somewhere small doesn’t necessitate that we won’t be able to bloom and accomplish phenomenal things. Flowers are beautiful because they show us that even though our circumstances and successes may come from seemingly negligible beginnings, if we reach our full potential, we can grow into extraordinary people who can accomplish remarkable things.
Like the growth of a flower, Tagore’s description of a flower’s purpose can be embodied by us as well:
The Earth’s endless effort
To the listening heaven.”
Sitting in front of a window, rain hitting the windowsill, a book in hand and an earthy cup of steaming milk tea is how I’d describe my perfect night. To me, chai is special because it’s been a part of my routine since I was a kid. Before I started kindergarten, my mom would give me three sips of tea a day, and since then, it’s been a constant part of my life. No matter how busy I get, even if I’m late to class or I’m missing an important meeting, nothing comes before my one cup of tea in the morning and my one cup of tea at 4 p.m. I drink the same kind of chai every day, the kind my parents and their parents had before they immigrated from Pakistan. It’s become a family activity, everyone sitting down and drinking tea together, sharing their funny stories or unique experiences of the day. You may not like tea. But find something that brings you so much simple joy that it may become your daily teacup, something that lets you step away from the world and breathe a few breaths of relaxation. Find a shared experience you can do with the people you love that creates space for conversation and community. Find your tea, anything that lets you reflect on how you are feeling with people who value listening to your experiences so that no matter what else is going on in your life, happy or sad, you will always find a moment to relax and take it in one sip at a time.
The complexity of chai can be best explained by Ralph Waldo Emerson: “There is a great deal of poetry and a fine sentiment in a chest of tea.”
MiC Columnist Syeda Rizvi can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.