A friend of mine was facing serious pressure from living in the public eye. He wished he could be anonymous, unknown to the world. He was constantly barraged by people seeking advice or seeking just to be associated with him. He would constantly complain about how he was harassed by phone calls.
The calls subsided, gradually becoming more infrequent until they virtually stopped. He then started to complain about how he was being overlooked and forgotten. He lamented that he felt like a foreigner in his own land with no one at all asking after him or caring what he was up to!
When you find yourself always busy, it means you are important. When you have lots of commitments and a full schedule, multiple cell phones, and numerous requests from people wanting to see you, you sense your importance, even if you also feel inconvenienced or constricted in your personal and family life.
When you have spare time or take a vacation, you find yourself away from the pressures that society constantly imposes upon you. It can sometimes be a sudden, unexpected change in your life’s rhythm. You might get bored. Time might seem to crawl. You are away from your normal habits, and many people become unhappy when their normal routine gets broken.
Parents sometimes get irritated with the constant presence of their small children. After a while, they grow weary of the persistent demands and incessant noise. However, when the children are away, they miss them something fierce, even to the point of tears. They miss hearing the laughter, and even the shouting and rambunctiousness become wistful recollections.
When you are a student at any level of your academic career, you chafe under the heavy study load and wait longingly for the summer holidays. You look forward to the day you will finally graduate. Then, after you leave school you enter the workforce, start a family, open a business… and reminisce about the wonderful times you had in school.
When war looms over the horizon, people complain about the uncertain future ahead and lament their inability to do anything to change the course of events. Then, when peace is restored and stability becomes the order of the day, people after a while start expressing their discontent at the status quo and incite for change.
I once knew a young man here in Saudi Arabia who was very keen on the rain. He would always attend the prayers for rain in times of drought and kept abreast of the weather reports during the rainy season. He looked forward to springtime and the more frequent precipitation it came with. He liked to quote that the Prophet said: “Our rains are from Allah’s grace.” [Sahīh al-Bukhārī and Sahīh Muslim]
Also, whenever it rained, he would follow the Prophet’s example and go out to let the rain fall on his head and say: “This is recently come to us from heaven.” [Sahīh Muslim]
Whenever the rains continued without abating and flood conditions were expected, he would again flow the Prophet’s example by supplication: “O Allah! Let it fall around us and not on top of us.” [Sahīh al-Bukhārī and Sahīh Muslim] However, deep within his heart, he hoped it would rain a little longer.
Later on, he was awarded a scholarship to study in a Western country. It happened to be a country where it rained a lot. It did not take long form him to start longing for the Sun to shine. He would feel despondent when he woke up in the morning to another grey, overcast sky. He would sigh and say: “The Sun in my country is more beautiful than anywhere else! Even the darkness back home is more beautiful than here.”
A cold front makes us wish for the warmth to return, even if the heat in the land is often scorching. Then, the severe heat makes us long for the cold. It is narrated that Prophet Muhammad said: “When a child of Adam is beset by cold, he says ‘fie!’ and when he is beset by the heat, he says ‘fie!’ again.”
Do People Really Want the "Happy" Medium?
Actually, no. What people want is something they perceive to be better and different than what they presently have. A child wishes to grow up and a mature person wants to be young again. In the end, it is more accurate to say that people do not really know what they want.
Because of this, the Qur’an describes Paradise with the words: “They shall abide therein, not wishing ever to be removed.” [Sūrah al-Kahf: 108]
Generally, we perceive of abiding in the same place and state of being for a long time as something bad. Therefore, it is significant the Qur’an mentions that the denizens of Paradise will not wish for any alternative to remaining where they are. As for their state in Paradise, they will have and behold all that they desire. Whenever a want comes to their minds, it will be realised for them.
As for our state in this world, the Qur’an describes it well: “Truly humankind is created of a hasty temperament; fretful when evil befalls them, and niggardly when good reaches them, except for those who pray and are constant in their prayers.” [Sūrah al-Ma`ārij: 19-23]