I was often contemplative during my childhood. If I was with other children, I played with them just as they played. But everything was an occasion for contemplation, in which I excelled them. If none of the children were with me, I would begin to contemplate and reflect. I would gaze on ruins and crumbled walls and meditate on them, saying to myself, “This used to be a building, then it was destroyed.” I wept when I recalled its inhabitants and how they had prospered. I wept a great deal.
Shaykh Ahmad al-Ahsa’i, Sira Dhatiyya (Autobiography). Excerpted in Shams Hajar, 39.