This FMA principle put my life into perspective
In high school, I had the terrible habit of staying up as late as six in the morning. It definitely took its toll on me. I was falling asleep in classes and was unable to focus on the lessons being taught. I was jittery like my body was always on the edge of an anxiety attack. My body began showing the effects that a lack of sleep had on me. I would stare into the mirror and these vampiric dark circles would stare back at me. I didn’t figure out that a little sleep would go a long way; I looked up hacks to make dark circles less visible. I followed seemingly ridiculous instructions on depuffing your eyes with a cold spoon. It worked temporarily but I didn’t address the problem on hand, my insomniac sleeping patterns. I needed balance in my life. A show that I watched later in my life addressed the concept of creating balance in my life through the idea of Equivalent Exchange.
In an anime titled Fullmetal Alchemist (FMA), there is an idea called Equivalent Exchange. A rule called the first law of Equivalent Exchange is considered one of the fundamentals of alchemy in the show. The law says that a person must give something of equal value to gain something else of equal value. Through recalling my life experiences, I’ll be pinpointing where I enacted this rule.
Eventually, I received a wake-up call that my health was severely deteriorating. This time I responded properly. In exchange for my late-night YouTube rabbit holes, I decided to take control of my sleeping schedule. So, I learned about sleep hygiene. I would not look at a screen an hour before I was supposed to sleep. I would not eat heavy before bed. Instead, I would take a warm shower, change into pajamas and brush my teeth as part of my routine. If I still couldn’t sleep, I would read a book to calm my nerves and lull me into a more restful slumber. Recovering my health was step one in attaining balance.
I used to frequently watch this YouTuber, Daniel Howell, whose ongoing self-deprecatory jokes were about his quarter-life existential crisis. My peers and I related to this aspect of him quite a lot. I figured that once I understood I was going through an existential crisis, I needed to address it or it would continue to gnaw at the back of my mind. I had heard of mindfulness when I began university and learned that meditation is a big part of mindfulness. I realized that meditation is practised in my own culture.
Similar to yoga, we move our body into different poses while reciting our prayers. It took me a while, but I gradually began to have my own interpretation of how prayer helped me practise mindfulness. For the longest time, I believed that my human existence was lonely. However, prayer in Islam connects the individual to the larger universe. In Islam, all of the universe with the exception of the human being are in tandem praising God. I now exchange 20 minutes throughout my day in order to work on my spirituality, through prayer and reflection. Now when I meditate, I can feel my heart hum in my chest and it reminds me that though I’m a tiny part of the universe I am still a relevant part of it. Addressing my desolation was step two.
I had a bad habit of binging shows as a teenager. I would down gallons of sugary drinks while clicking through to the next episode of shows I was watching, over and over again. I would immerse myself in the fictional worlds I consumed and I’d constantly imagine myself as the self-made protagonist of my own imaginary tales. This habit eventually caught up to me. I was about to graduate high school in a year and a half and I was fickle about what I wanted to do. I wanted something to aspire to. I craved ambition.
One day, I was cleaning my room and I came across my diary from middle school. I nostalgically flipped through the pencil-smudged pages. Something sparked inside me. I exchanged putting all my entertainment on pause for my new project. I was hit with the writing bug, bad. I obsessed over writing a novel and I finished it about a month before high school graduation. The time I spent on the novel made me realize I loved writing and in turn I enrolled in Ryerson’s School of Journalism. Finding my ambition was step three.
Health, spirituality and ambition. Those were my ingredients for a balanced life and I understand that for others, their balance requires different ingredients. In accordance with Equivalent Exchange, I traded my self-indulgence, my time and my entertainment to attain what I have today. Leaving certain things behind was healthier for me. That being said, my life is not always in balance. There will always be chaotic moments that whirl around me. All I can do is prepare myself to be in solid condition and ready myself in a combat stance before life strikes.