“Working out is one of the most important things I do for myself every day. Working out grounds me, challenges me, forces me to pay attention to my body, it strengthens me so that I can be more focused outside of the gym.” Outside of the gym, Ayesha is the Canada Research Chair in Religion, Law, and Social Justice, she is also an Associate Professor at the Social Justice Institute (University of British Columbia), and a Member of the Board of Governors at UBC. Ayesha told me her best quality is that she works hard. She added, “I have been blessed with a life full of joyous gifts and a countless number of these gifts are unearned, just plain lucky. Like, having a healthy, functioning body, being born into a middle class family in a country where economic mobility is possible, being born at a time when women at least rhetorically have equal rights. But a lot of the gifts are the result of persistent, hard work. As women of colour, we’re taught to undervalue our hard work, but we work hard. Some of the hardest working people I’ve ever met are women of colour.” For someone that does so much, time is invaluable. Ayesha told me that the one thing she knows for sure is that time is limited on earth and that we’re allowed to be greedy with it. Ayesha told me, “I want to spend my time doing what I love, with the people I love. I want to be incessantly, eternally, ceaselessly in love; in love with people, in love with coffee, and light, and cherry blossoms, and the ocean.”
What is your favourite hobby or pastime?
I love traveling, reading, and moving — being in my body, as well as in my mind. I LOVE walking, in cities, in gardens, in forests, along the ocean, on lakes, anywhere. If I can’t walk, it makes me antsy, restless and I find I have trouble thinking clearly.
What is most important to you?
Finding happiness here and now, not just in the future, but right here, where I am right now. Sometimes it is really difficult to do that, and I don’t have to be happy all the time, but I also don’t want to do things that consistently make me unhappy. Happiness is important to me.
What is a fun fact about you that you haven’t told me yet?
I saw my first movie in theatre when I was 23 years old. I was living in New York City, where I was doing my Ph.D. at NYU, and it was my first Eid away from home. I decided to watch a movie in a movie theatre, which took some courage. The movie was “Love Actually”. I loved it and I can never watch it again, because I’m afraid I’ll hate it now, and I don’t want to tarnish the joy of that experience.