How will you sustain: Embracing the difficult

One of my all-time favorite TED Talks is Jacqueline Novogratz’s Life of Immersion, in which she beautifully suggests that it’s better to live a life of immersion, than a life untouched. And yet, the implied question she follows up with, is how will you sustain?

Having lived in Pakistan for 3 years now, working on Amal Academy for 2, and being away from my family for longer than I want to add up, I’ve been thinking about this question a lot. Last month, I even had a chance to talk with Jacqueline about it. She mostly left me with a lot of tough questions to explore, but also with the encouragement to embrace the difficult.

Looking at people who have inspired profound change, it seems like this is unfailingly a common thread: embracing the difficult, the pain, the struggle, the isolation, the doubt, the fears… Just today I was reading a biography of Allama Iqbal, one of the founding fathers of Pakistan, who wrote about his deep loneliness and depression, but that “we cannot but accept our lot with resignation.”

In another one of my favorite talks, a painfully powerful gift from Andrew Solomon, he argues that we should embrace the difficult because “our greatest needs become our greatest assets, and we learn to give everything that we need.”

As I look ahead at another year (or twenty) at Amal, I realize that many of us (myself obviously included) haven’t figured out what exactly all this means for us yet, but my prayer is that we can learn to see the beauty in the struggle, to “accept our lot,” to “give everything that we need,” and that we can have the strength to embrace the difficult whenever and however it comes.

“it is common to take a dog for a walk, it is less common to take a dream for a walk” || @amalacademy + @understory cofounder | nature novel in progress

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