The poem A Talk with the Self by Kamal El Mekki has always been a great reminder for me. The poem reminds us about our strong affinity for instant gratification, our impatience at the face of temptations, and our love for this world despite its ephemeral nature versus the price that we may have to pay because of such heedlessness.
A Talk with the Self
–Kamal El Mekki
Oh my self what will calm you?
Can’t you remain patient for a day or two?
I try to contain you but your strength overpowers
But when we die life will seem like hours
So can’t you be patient for part of a day?
And remain steadfast upon the straight way?
The direction you’re taking leads to my worst fears
Of the day we stand for fifty thousand years
No one will joke nor talk nor smile
And the sun from our heads will be at a mile
Nowhere to hide and nowhere to flee
Standing for what seems an eternity
Then the judgment begins and the books will land
Either on your right or your left hand
Oh my self …
Do not become like those who left the right track
And put their left hands behind their back
Oh self how do you plan to cross the sirat suspended in the air?
Craftier than a fox, sharper than a sword and thinner than a hair?
How do you plan to cross?
Or will you cross at all?
The blink of an eye? Run?
Or would you rather crawl?
The bad deeds you command will drop you from it
And only good deeds put you back upon it
Oh self it’s a five hundred year-drop suspension
Over a terrible place I’d rather not mention
Oh self… Do not be fooled by this world and its illusions
And keep in mind judgment, the grave and other conclusions
Oh self wake up! Don’t follow your desire
And ask for forgiveness to avoid the fire
Oh self keep the commands and avoid prohibitions
And pay close attention to these admonitions
Be amongst those who were the best of planners
Who prepared for the future with good deeds and good manners
Oh self it simply about your control
Being patient now so as to reach your goal
I don’t mean to put a burden, or put much stress
Just to warn of a day when the limbs confess
Sins add up as you live through the years
Then sadness won’t save you and nor will the tears
Every time you sin the Shaytan is winning
So remember the One against Whom you’re sinning
Oh my self… Life is short and ends when you least expect it
And then what will you say when you’re resurrected?
The angel of death overlooked you and took the souls of your brothers
And one day he’ll come to you and overlook others
For great rewards plant the righteous seeds Oh Allah,
I seek refuge from the evil of my self and from the evil of my deeds.