Death is unavoidable yet we do our best to avoid it; both death itself, and the topic.
I recently lost one of my best friends to a sudden heart attack. At only 28 years old, a sudden natural death isn’t quite common and there are tons of possible reasons why this happened, but the truth remains one; he is no longer with us.
It took me a while to write this because, even though writing is my release, writing seemed like admitting it and I just wasn’t ready.
It’s been 9 days since he left our world and moved on to another one, and I’m writing this now because I plan on keeping him present through my writing.
Hassan Al Hariri is a brilliant mind and soul. Yes, he is a person, but when your mind and soul dictate your actions and guide you toward leading a deeply meaningful and creative life, you become more than just a person.
Note: Hassan will always remain in the present tense in my writing. There’s no point in saying “was” because he is and always will be. I’d be happy to elaborate if you’re curious as to why I’ve chosen to do this, leave me a comment below and we’ll discuss.
I first met Hassan in 2008 on our college campus. I went on to share a deep connection when we ventured – along with other friends – to India in 2012. Post-graduation and adult-life gave us the friend-family bond many of us yearn for, and to that, I’m forever grateful.
I thank the Universe for leading this peculiar, genius man into my life 10 years ago and I promise to pay the Universe back for this blessing, as I believe to be true with everyone I meet: “I’m pretty sure I didn’t meet you just for nothing.”
You might not have shared this friendship of mine but because (1) you need to know this (2) he would have wanted this (3) I can write – here are the things I learned (and continue to learn) from this wonderful man:
NOTHING IS WORTH THE STRESS.
I stress out A LOT about everything, I think I always have, and Hassan would always repeat “ما عليه” – ‘it’s fine” until I calmed down. He doesn’t believe that anything, no matter what it is and trust me we’ve gone through some stressful times together, is worth the worry. I don’t think there’s anything he ever stresses about, except his own personal work. Maybe more on that some other time.
TAKE THE TIME TO UNDERSTAND YOURSELF.
I know there are a lot of people reading this right now and realising that he probably mentioned this to them once or twice, but Hassan is truly a believer in taking the time away from everything to get to know yourself first. As a supporter of helping others (next point), he emphasises on your inability to help others if you can’t help yourself first. Always easier said than done, but worth the time and effort. If you need to travel somewhere or spend time alone walking the streets, driving quietly, or reading a book to reflect on your inner thoughts and feelings, and WHY you have them, please take the time to do so as soon as possible.
FIND OUT HOW YOU CAN HELP OTHERS, AND DO IT.
I constantly feel pressured to “do more good”, to join a charity and to change the lives of less fortunate people forever. That’s a lot of pressure, and I’ll definitely talk about it more in coming posts. And even though Hassan once was an active member of a relief organization, he never expects the same from everyone else. From Hassan, I learned the magic of charity in the small things we do. For example: What are you good at? Think about that for a second. Has something come to mind? Come on, you’re definitely good at least ONE thing. Know it now? Ok good. Now think of how you can use that thing to do good for others. Hassan pushes me constantly to write more and write about what matters the most – to me and to others. That’s how I help others with what I do best.
DON’T LET YOUR TALENT GO TO WASTE.
Again with the writing for me. I’ve been writing since I was in primary school and well before I met Hassan – but I guess we don’t always commit to what we’re good at or what we love because, well, life gets in the way. But I promise you that the people around you support what you do if you do it with passion, and don’t forget to be your number 1 supporter too. Don’t waste it. Do what you’re good at and do it well.
DON’T BE LIMITED BY YOUR BELIEFS.
This can be a tough one to swallow for many but limiting yourself by how you were raised to think is exactly that: limiting. Life is to be lived and if you’re happy the way you are, so be it and good for you. But if you’re struggling and trying to break out of the shell, know this: it’s not as scary as you think, and people who freak out will get over it. I know this is pretty vague but you’ll understand that it’s not an easy topic to get into. If you’d like me to write more on this, leave me a comment below.
NOTHING AND NOBODY IS SACRED.
I – and Hassan – don’t believe that any good comes from idolising people and things but especially people, because of one simple reason: they are bound to disappoint us, and what do we do then? I’m not talking about admiration or respect. I’m talking about those people who you’ve placed on a pedestal and claim to be absolute flawless perfection at whatever they do. Whether it’s someone you look up to for humanitarian services or for religious beliefs or for being the best at something, there is a 99.99% (I made that up) chance that they will fail because they’re human and you’ll be left hurt and confused. Just don’t do it. Admire people but know that no one is perfect; everyone’s just good enough.
DON’T GET YOURSELF INTO STICKY SITUATIONS.
Hassan, I love you for this one because it saved me from one too many mistakes. This rule is simple: if it sounds like trouble, avoid it. If people are gossiping and you’re not sure if you can trust them enough to join in, don’t. If you don’t feel right about going somewhere, don’t. If you know you shouldn’t be doing something, don’t do it. Just trust your gut. All else will fall into place.
THE CREATIVE WAY IS THE ONLY WAY.
Hassan lives and breathes creativity, hates normality, and despises the mundane. Unfortunately, I’m not like that. I do fall for the routine or the way that just gets things done, but I try to remember that creativity keeps things fresh and keeps us interested. AND makes a difference in people’s lives. My field of work requires creativity all the time and I’ll remember to make it an enjoyment rather than a task from now on.
COUNT YOUR BLESSINGS AND KEEP MOVING.
None of us have it easy. Even the most fortunate is unfortunate in some way. How many ways are you blessed in? Home, family, friends, food, money, job, car, life, safety, security, peace, laughter? The list goes on and on. Count. Each and every one counts. And keep moving forward, to gain more. Don’t ever stop to say “I have bad luck.” Keep moving on.
ART IS LIFE AND SO IS FOOD.
Hassan loves art and food in equal measure and they’re both the light of life and we both can’t imagine life without them. Not much to say here except for that time when I changed the way I eat for a few weeks and Hassan got really upset because I had “denied myself the pleasure of eating enjoyable food”. Never again, my friend. I will forever enjoy every bite.
CALL OUT THE WRONG, SPEAK UP FOR RIGHT.
A lot of people will do a lot of bad things, to you or to other people. These wrongdoers might be some of your closest friends. Still, don’t let it pass. Stand for justice and grab it with your own hands if you must. No one has the right to belittle or hurt anyone. Don’t lie. Don’t cheat. And never bully. Stand up for those who need the support, and don’t let the fear of losing anyone come in the way.
LOVE, AND LOVE FREELY.
The only way to love is to love with a wide open heart and deep laughter. That’s how I’ll always remember this lesson. Hassan loves everything deeply and expresses it in his unique way. But love is love, and to love is to feel it in every inch of your body.
MAKE EVERYTHING SEEM EFFORTLESS.
Everyone will wonder how you do it and you’ll reach a point where you start wondering how you do it too, but making difficult things look effortless is a skill to develop carefully. More things get done, less stress over the details and the impression you leave will be everlasting. As put by Hamed Fakhro: “Hassan moved mountains and then kept them in his pocket.”
DO THINGS WITH PASSION, AND RECOGNITION WILL FOLLOW.
Hassan knows I struggle with the idea of recognition for my work and the only thing he ever says is “just do it because you love it and do it well. everyone will see that.” I carry that close to my heart, every day.
This is how I tried to sum up 10 years of friendship. 3,650 days of love and laughter and arguments and jokes and food and selfies and plans. We make plans forever. And we hope to live them through.
My friend will live on in my heart and in my life and in everything I do. People pass away and we sometimes find ourselves forgetting little details about them. So I incorporated a list into my mourning process and noted down all the things I want to remember about him forever.
Hassan Al Hariri is known by hundreds (maybe thousands of people, I’m really bad with numbers) with friends literally all over the world – and everyone’s heart was shattered with the news of his passing. A lot of people consider him their best friend.
A sense of positivity and peace has taken over me, after days of crying uncontrollably. I feel like I now understand how I must mourn the loss of this brilliant human being. And sharing these lessons with you was way number 1.
Now on to the next.
x in eternal memory of Hassan Al Hariri. I love you forever.