Send Me to the Planetarium A Memoir by Send Me to the Planetarium

As a young girl, I developed an overzealous fascination with outer space. The balance of the blazing stars astounded me – especially as they contrasted against the composed and appeasing moon. When I was ten years old, my mother gifted me with a miniature telescope which I treasured whole-heartedly. I loved everything about it: its fluorescent yellow coloring and accented lines of charcoal grey, its accompanying encyclopedia containing pages and pages decorated with the images of constellations that I one day hoped to locate, but most of all that each time I would peer through the narrowed eyepiece I would see the startling chasm of earth and sky.

I recall the copious amount of time I spent sitting by my windowsill contriving a planetarium within the confinements of my own mind, marveling at the thought of distant places as I tethered together the images of planets, stars, moons, and asteroids far far away. It was confounding to think that I, one girl, was but a single being in the cluster of not only people but both the world of the animate and inanimate. I existed as a one, yet connected to so many. I was lost in space and peculiarly enough, that’s just the way I liked it.

But, today is different. You see, through the years I’ve struggled to find my footing in a world blasting with the loud murmur of assent for egocentrism. A world where we are force-fed the idea that self-indulgence should be our primary intent for any and all actions. A place riddled with the belief that the world ceases to exits past our fingertips – which my ten-year-old self would emphatically disagree with. Pride takes refuge in our hearts as we strive to acclimate our souls in a place, a world, which was not meant to last forever. The arenas of our minds and hearts have become pervaded with the conviction that looking out for our wants and needs is the sure path to untarnished success.

Questions heave in my chest and I’m flustered. Why have we forgotten about our hungry neighbors and those who suffer from ailments and diseases residing in hospitals? How could we forget those who are lying on streets or under bridges with nothing more than makeshift cardboard beds? When did we become so pretentious that self-assurance itself has become merely a contention for further competition? Why have we forgotten that a vast and yielding world exists outside our doors? And have we forgotten our origin story, our humble beginnings?

I keep having this reoccurring vision of battling against my very self as I’m being swallowed into the abyss of my ego. For whenever I find myself weak and forgetful of who I am, I write recklessly in my journal. I always pen the same paragraph, over and over again.

I’d like to skip the pleasantries and lay it all on the line. I would like to declare that I am a speck. I am a single speck. I am a single servant whose entire existence has been molded from a clot of blood. My feet cling to Earth unrelentingly and the air I breathe statically charges me. The blood flowing through my veins warms me and the fire of faith fuels my sprit. I have Him (subhana wa ta’ala) to thank and I solely worship and obey Him (subhana wa ta’la).

We should be asking ourselves, what have we contributed to the betterment of the world? Scratch that. We should be asking ourselves, what we have contributed towards the betterment of the world, sincerely for the sake of Allah? As Muslims we are naturally fitted to be a social activists. We have a role to fulfill and a responsibility to shoulder. With all of the resources at our disposal and means at our fingertips, no excuse is justifiable.

Half the battle is simply bursting the bubble of our intrinsically driven lives and reminding ourselves that we have gifts to share with the world, especially those who desperately need them. Not to inch too close to a cliché, but it’s a great big world out there and you don’t need to peer into a telescope to realize that. Thus, I lay my fluttering eyelashes to rest, send myself to that planetarium buried deep in my mind and recall the words of Edward Everett Hale. “I am only one; but still I am one. I cannot do everything; but still I can do something; and because I cannot do everything, I will not refuse to do the something that I can do”.