Arsala Khan

Creating tech and art to serve humanity with love, joy & hope. Studied at UofT, interned at Google, founded Grey Software to democratize education through open software.

The Words To Sing Or Say

This pain that just won't go away
I feel it every night and day
So grateful when it's less than five
I do all this Just to survive

At times I thought it was a test
To try and push me to my best
At times I thought I showed neglect
When my own body needed rest

A break was hardly scheduled in
A calendar that sought to win
With strategies of enterprise
That took my heart to it's demise

I played this life as if a game
And gained XP to cast my name
Among the greats that brought us change
From chaos that they rearranged

At first I found a great devisor
Plans that came to life
But every year as I grow wiser
I see the burden, know the strife

I wonder how it all affects me
Their best advice is go and pray
I know a source of good directs me
Evil turned my eyes to Grey

So I set a greater aim
And ventured on a noble quest
I knew I'd never be the same
For I was here to meet my nest

The prodigy came back so broken
With stories he had never spoken
Could be try and speak them here
Could he be himself sincere

For in his mind he saw a world
Of freedom, peace for boys and girls
He honed his craft and played his roles
And lived alone between the poles

Alienated from his nation
He suffered in his contemplation
From those who called him Sir and Khan
To those that called him their Janaan

He had to search within the depths
He had to take his deepest breaths
Loving here was hard because
A land of lies is where he was

Formed on faith and unity
It's discipline was martial law
Violent claims of purity
What conclusions would he draw?

Nations have their armies
While this army had a nation

Bit by bit the veils were lifted
Freedoms lost were slowly gifted
He had a need for true belief
A knowing that would grant relief

From pain he learned to just accept
With secret hope that he had kept
So safe behind a gentle smile
That kept him going for a while

So he could stand and venture forth
Love and courage in his style
West coast wisdom from the north
To last him just another mile

Until he'd break and suffer more
In his room he'd lock the door
And try to heal in any way
Find the words to sing or say

Be All You Can Be

You've enjoyed thinking in rhyme
But now you know it's time
To create a clearer map
And escape society's trap

The pain you hold within
The demons all around you
They'll try to peel your armor
Distort the peace that found you

You've gotten many gifts
And signs that you can see
So accept this gracious lift
And Be All You Can Be

Who You Are

Your psyche's like Rosetta's stone
With answers that you seek
Your body speaks in hieroglyphs
Interpret them in Greek

Don't be alarmed by what's within
Doing so is such a sin
You'll miss the mark if you ignore
The knowledge of the truth within

Lonely alienation
Isn't individuation
Becoming who you are
Is the true definition

Knowing who you are
Is a journey of the self
To discover that you're nothing
Without the source's help

If you choose seperation
Frustration won't cease
For Yoga means unity
Islam means peace

Darkness looms around the corner
So cultivate the Buddha's Zen
Be courageous for your friends
And you can love joy hope again

Profile Writing Challenge: An Accomplishment You're Proud Of

Write about an accomplishment you're proud of and why it makes you proud. The accomplishment can be something personal or professional that you've found particularly fulfilling. Write about it in 250 words or less.

A personal accomplishment that I've found incredibly fulfilling is healing my obesity and body dysmorphia. Ever since I gained consciousness as a child, I remember being overweight and looking different from most people. I often perceived that people mistreated me because of how I looked, which caused me to develop an unhealthy relationship with my body, the food I would put in it, and my attitude towards exercise.

At the age of 19 and when I immigrated to Canada, I found an environment that would support me on a strenuous journey to address my obesity and the self-worth damage caused by growing up with it. During this time, I suffered numerous injuries as I tried to maintain my academic and career progress while coping with a heavy exercise routine and insufficient sleep.

In the five years before I finally stabilized my weight, I experienced both extremes of an unhealthy body, dropping about 25 pounds below my healthy weight. On the quest for balance, I had to construct, tear down, and reconstruct my understanding of a healthy lifestyle and self-image multiple times.

While achieving better fitness brought many health and lifestyle benefits, I'm also grateful for the change in mindset that resulted from my journey. My new eyes gave me a renewed and empowering perspective on life because I was able to conquer a state of body and mind that had haunted me ever since I became self-conscious.

I started to believe I could conquer greater mountains...maybe any mountain.

Profile Writing Challenge: A Hack You've Built

Write about a hack you've built. A hack is when you solve a problem quickly with limited resources. What's a problem that you've encountered in your life where you've hacked together a physical, technical, or system-level solution? Write about it in 150 words or less!

When I found myself barraged by addictive newsfeeds on the internet, I knew things couldn't carry on this way. I wanted to visit social websites for my work without being disturbed by algorithm-generated news.

There was already an open-source extension that had helped me get off Facebook by blocking its newsfeed, and I used its underlying functionality to teach introductory web dev to students.

In the spirit of collaborative hacking and teaching, I worked with Grey Software students to build extensions to hide feed elements on Linkedln and Twitter.

These side projects eventually blossomed into Focused Browsing, which now blocks distracting feeds on major social websites while making it simple to toggle feeds with a keyboard shortcut.

What started as a fun hack turned into a product that's helped me and other users stay more focused in a world of growing distractions. I think that's beautiful!

Profile Writing Challenge: Something You Wish People Knew About You

Often, we aren't asked the questions we'd like people to ask. What's something you wish more people knew about you? Write about it in 150 words or less.

Not many people ask me about my family, to whom I attribute a significant fraction of my personal and professional accomplishments. They, directly and indirectly, influenced my character, values, and behaviours, which served as a guiding force as I made my way through life.

My father and grandfather's integrity and humility gave me the courage to speak my mind at Google and exit gracefully without making a scene.

My mother's entrepreneurial spirit and pursuit of human welfare encouraged me to work hard to create helpful solutions for people facing problems.

My elder sister set an example of how to gracefully strive for excellence and dedicate one's life to serving the people around you within the bounds of the realities of our world and the systems in it.

My younger brother allowed me to see a beautiful reflection of myself and served as a source of love, wisdom, and self-esteem.

The Person I Won't Renounce

Brown on the outside
Inside I'm white
That's what they say
To weaken my Light

Laugh at my accent
And laugh at my grammar
Cuz attempting my language
Would cause you to stammer

Face me like a man
And aim above the belt
You'd never understand
The cards I've been dealt

I've been to many lands
That you could not pronounce
The person I've become
Is one I won't renounce

The Person That They Hated

The person that you loved
They didn't love themselves
They didn't understand
And couldn't lend a hand

Too much fucking silence
And painful compromise
Communication gaps
Are hardly a surprise

For the person that you loved
Wasn't ready to relate
With who they were inside
They could not communicate

You sacrificed your state
And gave so many chances
You signed up for an angel
And got demonic dances

You couldn't have expected
That it was ill fated
That who you fell in love with
Was the person that they hated

Our Mother

I find it rather odd
That we would celebrate
The Mother and the Earth
On a different solar date

Both are really special
And deserve their separate days
But open up your eyes
And let me make the case

That the mother of us all
Is the world where we are living
The birthing place of life
Her force is truly giving

She's given us the signs
Sustaining us throughout
Could you try and give,
Equal love when you're in doubt?

Could you give her all your courage?
Could you give her time and love?
Could you be the sun and-
Shine a light from up above?

Could you be like Jupiter,
Protect her holy orbit?
Could you be the moon,
And keep her children in the truth?

She gives us what she can
And would give us so much more
If we only realized
That her trauma keeps the score

The wisdom in her pain
From years of our neglect
Has driven us insane
We know it's not correct

It's been too many years
She's cried too many tears
She doesn't want us to be anxious
But to conquer our fears
For fear leads to anger
Anger leads to hate
Hate leads to suffering
A deeply tragic state

But courage leads to grace
Grace leads to love
Love leads to peace
And that's why we have to cease
With the wars between our nations
And the fights inside our homes
She sustains us all regardless of,
Our race or chromosomes

She thrives on symbiosis
And not on deep neurosis
So gently help her heal
And let her truly feel

She really needs our help
We need to live our truth
I know I can do better
I know that you can too

So on this blessed Mother's Day
I hear a voice inside my heart
"To help our greater Mother Earth
Help YOUR mother as a start"

One Liner Challenge

Challenge: Write one fabulous line

My eyes weave dreams under lids that open to unfamiliarity in my reality.

Let Me Plant A Seed

I wish the world were greener!
I wish these streets were cleaner!
I wish my fellow humans,
Evolved in their demeanor!

They say they need a leader.
I say they've got it wrong!
For the leader in their souls,
Has been there all along!

I just chose to listen.
You can listen too!
For silence can't distinguish,
Between myself or you.

They tell me I'm naive,
"Not everyone can lead!"
I understand their case,
But let me plant a seed.

Of a vision so courageous,
A world that's filled with light.
Where people lead themselves,
And each other through the night

Kings and Queens who aren't made,
Of ornaments and bloody blades!
With blessings from the source divine,
Who could ever be afraid?

So Bow despite the crown,
You wear but never show!
For a branch bows down,
When sweet fruits grow!

Slipping Fast

These times are really rough
This I can't deny
I know that I can be tough
If only I knew why

I'm losing all my innocence
I feel it slipping fast
But I can't act with dissonance
I'm trying to make it last

Surely there are better ways
Of teaching me bout life
Casted slave in cosmic plays
My fragile heart's in strife

Repression Breeds Sin

Some people love
With every nerve in their body
Some people fuck
As a matter of fact

Repression breeds sin
It drives the mind sick
A supple child's skin
Is no place for a dick

Pure At The Start

Pure at the start
This is nothing less than art
Come a long way
And we've got a lot to say

Got a lot to share
We've been waiting for a friend
Pure at the start
Hoping for a happy end

Land of Liars

Welcome to the land of liars
Where we repress desires
Inflation's dimmed our fires
While demons never tire

Everyone around me is frightened
The media's grip has tightened
You may think I talk like a psycho
But I think that life is a cycle

I'm abstract, soft as a q-tip
My life's like a bloodstained tulip
So forgive me please, your highness
My knowledge may cure blindness

What's Life?

Sometimes I look up at the sky
And think about life
The nature of the universe
The meaning of strife

What happens to my soul
If I die in the night
Just tell me a tale
I need some light