With the Name of Allah, the extremely Merciful at this very moment, and the extremely Merciful at all times.
Sometimes videogames, movies, and TV take me by surprise with quotes or stories that allow for reflection on life.
One quote that lingers in my mind, oddly enough, is from my favorite videogame: The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time.
In the game, you control Link on his quest to defeat the evil Ganondorf who took the land (Hyrule) by force and made himself its King. Link starts his quest as a child, but after pulling the Master Sword from its pedestal in the Temple of Time, he’s put in a deep sleep for the next 7 years until he becomes an adult, when he is ready to be the “Hero of Time.”
Soon after he wakes, he meets “Sheik” (not that kind of Sheikh 😉 ) who teaches Link different songs on his “Ocarina of Time” which allow him to return to places he has already visited and travel through time.
Pretty standard videogame stuff.
However, while Link was in a deep sleep, Hyrule becomes a barren wasteland with destroyed cities and widespread oppression; a stark contrast to the once vibrant Castle Town Market and lush Hyrule field. In this confused era, Link returns to his childhood home, Kokiri Forest. And deep in the Lost Woods he comes upon the Sacred Forest Meadow, which holds a treasured childhood memory.
There waiting for him, is Sheik, who teaches him the “Minuet of Forest.” But before teaching it, Sheik prefaces:
“The flow of time is always cruel…Its speed seems different for each person, but no one can change it…
A thing that doesn’t change with time is a memory of younger days…”
That’s pretty deep for a videogame.
We always complain about the flow of time, it goes by so fast when we are having fun or when we are with people we love; but it goes endlessly slow when we’re bored or alone.
When we’re in class, time moves at a snail’s pace. But when we study for finals, we wish there were more hours in the day to cram.
When we are watching our favorite movie, 2 and half hours seem so fast. But when the 30 minute Khutbah goes over by 5 minutes, we start shifting and getting uncomfortable.
But 60 seconds always make a minute, 60 minutes always make an hour, and 24 hours always make a day. The day ends and the night starts, the night ends and the day begins. As Allah says in Surah Al-Furqan:
“And it is He who has made the night and the day in succession for whoever wishes to remember or wishes to be thankful.” (25:62)
The flow of time doesn’t change, but our perception of the flow of time is always changing. In other words, time itself never changes; what changes is everything else.
Except for our most treasured memories, memories of younger days.
Most people might get bored, but I enjoy sitting and listening to my parent’s reminisce about their childhood; vibrant stories of innocence , old friends, and unique experiences.
I often wonder what I will reminisce about with my children, if I am blessed with them by Allah. What stories will I tell them? What foolish things will I laugh about with them? What treasured memories will I reflect on?
Memories are byproducts of time, yet some can become altered. This is because we usually only remember the best part of a memory. Thus, details of the actual incident may change, but our memory of it does not.
I’m not too old, but even I have treasured memories. Of my days at UCR and school, of learning to ride a bike and dribbling a basketball, of weekend school at the Masjid and Desi parties, of playing WWF No Mercy and watching Dragon Ball Z, of visiting family in Pakistan and the U.S., the list goes on.
But among my treasures are events within the last year; memories from the Caribbean and in New York.
I can only imagine the treasures the elderly hold.
We may curse time for adding wrinkles on our head, white in our hair, and pain in our joints, but with so many sweet memories of younger days, perhaps it’s a fair trade off.
At the same time, it can be dangerous to get lost in our memories, lost in time; perhaps leading to thoughts that the present isn’t “as good” as the past.
But instead of getting lost, we should be finding our way. We should reflect on the good times and the bad, learning from our mistakes and replicating our successes. We should use our memories as motivation to find new treasures and create new memories.
But most importantly, we should remember our memories as blessings, and be thankful for them.
Thankful for our parents and families, for times spent with close friends, for meeting that person that changed your life, for that quiet moment with Allah where your heart was completely in awe.
Thankful that we had it good, in a country that has it good, when we could have easily been given less, in a country with less.
What memories then, will we remember and be thankful for? What treasure chests are waiting to be opened?
Only time will tell.
May Allah make us among the thankful, ameen.