There is an old Pakistani folklore about why we see shadows or craters on the moon. In this folklore, a woman lives inside the moon and is busy spinning a spindle. I would ask everyone in my family to tell me the story, ranging from my Grandparents to my Parents to my Aunts and Uncles. Each one would tell me a slightly different version and I relished in finding those little variances. I found it interesting that it was one story but it kept changing when told from a different perspective. I collected the stories from an early age and weaved them together in a tapestry of sacred memories just like the woman in the moon, industriously working away on her spindle.
Stories continued to play a major role when I moved to America at the age of ten. Being able to go to the library and borrow books for free was an exciting part of the week. I remember books like “Jane Eyre”, “The Scarlet Letter”, and “A Tree Grows in Brooklyn.” All the protagonists had one thing in common. They were all strange outcasts of society to some extent. I saw myself in these characters as I also struggled with belonging and holding on to my cultural identity. I was too Pakistani for my American classmates and too American for my cousins back home.
I felt alone and often wondered if the spindle woman inside the moon was also lonely. I wanted to belong and the only way was to be the moon in other people’s lives. I found my role in reflecting other’s light. I loved playing the supporting role and being a cheerleader for anyone other than myself. In my mind, I became a savior and a much needed part of my circle.
At the same time, I quietly expressed myself through writing. It was a secret underground activity reserved just for myself never to be shared with the world. God forbid if I shared with any other human and exposed my weaknesses and vulnerabilities! Part of me was always hidden away. My craters of imperfection and shadows were best left in the darkness.
The act of hiding manifested itself in various facets of my life. I felt a gnawing sense of not knowing who I really was or where I wanted to go. I followed down an unconscious and unintentional path that was not my own. I eventually let even writing fall by the wayside with new addition to my roles of a wife and mother. I continued to live for others and kept my inner child, so intrigued with craters and shadows in the moon, left in the darkness, not letting her out to play. Sure, I had issues but didn’t everybody?
It wasn’t until I lost my first child, Mehak, during a traumatic delivery experience that I hit the pause button on life. I turned inward and shielded myself even further from society. I built walls that no one could penetrate. It seemed like the only way. Why let my heart open up just so I can experience the pain of loss?
Living life with a heart lacking connection with my true self and feeling lonely in a crowd where I didn’t belong all went on overdrive. It seemed a piece of me left when Mehak left this world.
It took years of therapy and inner work to reestablish a connection with myself. I was still lacking a connection with others. When asked by my Therapist on what will bring me joy, I responded with “writing stories”. I was asked to write stories as a therapy assignment. I wrote down ideas for some stories but I lacked the consistency to follow through with my plans.
On February 4th of 2020, I stayed up late reflecting upon life just like I do every year on this day. It’s the day Mehak was born. An opportunity knocked at my door to join Seth Godin’s Creative’s Workshop. I felt compelled to join as if my inner child and my first child tag teamed and left me with no excuses.
With a click of a few buttons, I became a student of the workshop. I gave myself permission to live for myself and show up every single day sharing my stories. A profound transformation occurred in the process. I found my voice and my fellow travelers within the workshop. In this safe container of a collaborative community, I learned to see and be seen; to give and to receive. Magic of epic proportions occurred when my fellow travelers and I received each other with warm generosity and open-hearted acceptance. In addition to growing my skills, I came away with intimate friends from all walks of life and they continue to enrich me and my life.
Life is an experience best shared with my fellow travelers. It’s both a synchronous and asynchronous dance of giving and receiving. Our differences make us beautiful, but the underlying emotions we face as humans is the connecting force for us all. In this increasingly divisive world, I like to call upon the power of personal stories and the generous act of sharing to bind us all.
I believe all of us have a voice and an innate human need to be creative. We just need a safe space to nurture our gift and the confidence to know this unique gift we offer the world is valuable. It is with this hope that I share my stories with you so you can be inspired to share yours. With stories, we can connect, heal, and transform our lives together. As I gaze up at the moon, I am inspired to weave a tapestry of our collective human experience as we embrace our shadows and imperfections and reflect each other’s light back to one another.