It happens sometimes that lyrics, book passages, social media posts, movie lines, poems – words from somewhere – insert themselves into my head (meter-ing). I know that the words don’t sum up the entire Me in that moment. And although it can be annoying, I do like the record: it helps me remember certain moments in my life, while putting some of the impossible complexity of human experience into my limited mind.
Fall 2018, starting a job in tech
When life becomes work, the alchemistic fantasies of endless potential intensify. Just like immaterial money no longer corresponds to an actual amount of financial resources, immaterial labor no longer corresponds to an actual amount of labor resources: life itself becomes the source of capitalist growth, and it knows no limitations.- Susanne Ekman, "Win-win imageries in a soap bubble world: Personhood and norms in extreme work"
Summer 2018, after the passing of another deal uncle
“I don’t believe that grief passes away. It has its time and place forever. More time is added to it; it becomes a story within a story. But grief and griever alike endure.”- Wendell Berry, Jayber Crow
Summer 2018, teaching at Girls Who Code in Atlanta
When we talk about having empathy for our students, we must also talk about vulnerability within ourselves. Empathy grows most when we de-center ourselves, examine our bias + privilege, and stay in a little bit of agitation + uncertainty.- Dana M. Stachowiak, Twitter post
January 2018, in the middle of my teaching Fulbright in Spain
He was suspended between radiance and darkness. Between bitter irony and faith. Sharply he turned away.- Carson McCullers, The Heart is a Lonely Hunter
Fall 2017, after the passing of my dear uncle
Joy is the emotional expression of the courageous YES to one’s own true being.- Paul Tillich
June 2017, graduating from Carleton
What is right and what is wrong are simply different ways of understanding our relationships with the others, not that which we have with ourselves.- José Saramago, Blindness
January 2016, start of winter term at Carleton
He tells me there are lots of ways to belong in the world. And that it is my work to find out where I belong.- Bell Hooks
December 2016, winter break in Raleigh during NCGA Emergency Session
Everything terrible is really something helpless that wants help from us.- Bell Hooks
July 2016, Internship with ISAIAH MN
Joy gives us wings! In times of joy, our strength is more vital, our intellect keener, our judgment less clouded.- 'Abdu'l- Bahá, Paris Talks
October 2015, study abroad in Mexico
La alegría de la muerte es haber vivido la vida.-On an altar in Cuernavaca during Day of the Dead
August 2015, Breakthrough Santa Fe
I want to find God in the morning and in the tired hands of dusk,
at the mouth of the river and down by its feet,
but instead I drive 60 through residential streets,
praying to hit a child, so they may stay forever angels,
forever full of crayons and outstretched limbs,
trying to pick up way too much, way too fast,
and forgetting what it means to be a person in a world where beliefs are like naps,
you leave them behind when someone touches you.- Anis Mojgani, "For Those Who Can Still Ride In Airplanes"
June 2015, Class and Wealth at Carleton College
There is a community of the spirit.
Join it, and feel the delight
of walking in the noisy street
and being the noise.
Drink all your passion and be a disgrace.- Rumi, "A Community of the Spirit"
April 2015, processing from Carleton College the Baltimore “Riots”
To everyone praying for “peace” in Baltimore, let me tell you what I’m praying for. I pray for justice. I pray for the Black youth who are fighting for their very lives, for their people, for their families, their loved ones. I pray for all the protesters and “rioters.” I pray for their power and strength. As Gazi Kodzo puts it, “these are our warriors.”- Jaslina Singh Saavedra Paintal, Facebook post
March 2015, beginning of the Baha’i Fast
Why do you stay in prison when the door is so wide open?- Rumi
February 2015, sophomore year at Carleton College
Love: The steed of this Valley is pain; and if there be no pain this journey will never end. In this station the lover hath no thought save the Beloved, and seeketh no refuge save the Friend. At every moment he offereth a hundred lives in the path of the Loved One, at every step he throweth a thousand heads at the feet of the Beloved.- Baha'u'llah, The Seven Valleys and the Four Valleys
February 2015, Our Three Winners
It doesn’t make sense, and for that I rely on the Most Wise. It hurts and for that I know that God will not burden me more than I can handle. I know my brother, his wife, and his sister in law are together as ultimate winners. This life was only ever a test and they have passed with flying colors. They have won, and for that I rejoice. I am sincerely happy for each of them. I pray God grants the rest of us the patience to accept this. We live as Muslims to die as Muslims. May Allah enter them to the highest of paradise. May we be reunited with them. The burden is on us now. O people, they won! They won!- Farris Barakat
August 2014, Breakthrough Santa Fe
You cannot fall
You are noble
The universe is a part of you
And you apart of it
And every piece of it is made of science and magic
Every part of you is science and magic- Anis Mojgani, "Equal Parts Science and Magic"
March 2014, service for three beloved Carleton students
Your children are not your children.
They are the sons and daughters of Life‚
Longing for itself.
They come through you but not from you,
And though they are with you yet they belong not to you.- Kahlil Gibran
February 2014, thinking about my wonderful mom
Sometimes the desire to be lost again, as long ago, comes over me like a vapor. With growth into adulthood, responsibilities claimed me, so many heavy coats. I didn’t choose them, I don’t fault them, but it took time to reject them. Now in the spring I kneel, I put my face into the packets of violets, the dampness, the freshness, the sense of ever-ness. Something is wrong, I know it, if I don’t keep my attention on eternity. May I be the tiniest nail in the house of the universe, tiny but useful. May I stay forever in the stream. May I look down upon the wind flower and the bull thistle and the coreopsis with the greatest respect.- Mary Oliver, Upstream
January 2014, reflection for Interfaith Social Action at Carleton College
We cannot do everything, and there is a sense of liberation in realizing this.
This enables us to do something, and to do it very well.
It may be incomplete, but it is a beginning.- Ken Untener, "Oscar Romero Prayer"
March 2013, one month away from leaving Chichicorumi, Napo, Ecuador
I was thinking how amazing it was that the world contained so many lives. Out in these streets people were embroiled in a thousand matters, money problems, love problems, school problems. People were falling in love, getting married, going to drug rehab, learning how to ice-skate, getting bifocals, studying for exams, trying on clothes, getting their had cut, and getting born. And in some houses people were getting old and sick and were dying, leaving others to grieve. It was happening all the time, unnoticed, and it was the thing that really mattered.- Jeffrey Eugenides, Middlesex
August 2012, starting Global Citizen Year
A child’s world is fresh and new and beautiful, full or wonder and excitement. It is our misfortune that for most of us that clear-eyed vision, that true instinct for what is beautiful and awe-inspiring, is dimmed and even lost before we reach adulthood. If I had influence with the good fairy who is supposed to preside over the christening of all children, I should ask that her gift to each child in the world be a sense of wonder so indestructible that it would last throughout life, as an unfailing antidote against the boredom and disenchantment of later year . . . the alienation from the sources of our strength.-Rachel Carson, "The Sense of Wonder"
March 2012, towards the end at Raleigh Charter High School
He was a rich man who was tired of letting life pass him by–what he referred to as the shrugging of the shoulders to the problems and pleasures of a person’s time on earth.-Markus Zusak, The Book Thief
August 2011, Governor’s School at Salem College
He stumbled into faith and thought,
God this is all there is?- Regina Spektor, “Blue Lips, Blue Veins”
June 2011, after the death of our very own angel
If we focus, between the cracks of our privileged lives, we can see an oncoming darkness that will try to cover and in a sense, suffocate the hopes and dreams, the passions and love of our youth, of our lives. The seeds of inspiration will have no possibility of surviving under this blanket of numbness that may come over us, penetrating our fertile hearts through various means, forcing us to succumb to a sense of mediocrity. Notice that in history, it’s through our agency, as youth in general, that initiates revolutions, that topples dictatorships, that drives a society forward to further paradigm shifts. Friends, classmates, be awakened and awaken others.- Mehdy Hazheer, "The Gardener"
November 2009, sophomore year at Raleigh Charter High School
The problem with life’s purpose is that we know damn well what it is but are unwilling to face the changes in our lives that a commitment to self-transcendence, to being the best human being we could possibly be, would entail. It wearies us just thinking about it. So we rationalize that it’s all “relative,” or that we’re already doing enough and don’t have time. Worst of all we rationalize that those who do accept the challenges inherent in self-transcendence are uniquely gifted and specially graced.- August Turak, "Brother John"