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Two roads "divulged" and a lovely poem

Yesterday, I recounted to my hubby an incident that had happened earlier in the day. Tristan and I were driving home from the library just after a giant black cloud broke open and rain began to fall. We were about to turn onto our street when I saw a man approaching the curb at about the same time, so I pulled into the bike lane to let the traffic flow in the street behind me as well as to let the man cross the street. The man had stopped at the curb and at first he didn't look at me - I was waiting to make eye contact to let him know he should go ahead and cross - and then after a long delay, he looked at me, in obvious irritation and with one giant loop of his arm, told me that I should go. I went.

As I told this to my husband, we were asking each other, was he irritated because I had held him up? He had to stand on the curb in the rain as I waited and he waited for the other to go. Was he irritated because it was raining after such a lovely start to spring? Maybe he was irritated for some other reason entirely. What comes to mind though is our dour economic condition and the way it seems to be affecting so many people in so many ways. Everyday there is news of a killing rampage and suicide and homelessness and kidnapping (this kind of news is exactly why I stopped watching local television news on t.v. altogether). I think everyone is hit to some extent by this recession - but some far worse than others, and it is here where the desperation comes from. I just want to shout out that nothing is so bad that a life has to end because of it. If there is no light, one will not appreciate the dark and all it has to offer, and if there is no dark, one will not appreciate the light and all it gives. The hardest of times and the darkest of days have two paths, one of desperation, of being a victim, and one of changed circumstances, of seeing the difficult time as a chance to make a positive change. In our family, we are by no means desperate but our standard of living (from the point of view of our consumer culture) has definitely diminished. This blog is the evidence of a giant burst of creativity that has resulted in my lessening my family's overall "footprint" in both the environment and the economy. Obviously I can't know the depth of burden that someone else has to carry, but what I think is important here is that all of this is temporary, none of it has the ability to change who we are at our core. Who we are is not what we buy or where we live or how much we know. My husband's father had a saying, "If you cannot change your circumstances, you must change your perception of your circumstances." That possibility is within us all. There is always a choice.

As far as the man on the street goes, well, I am "thin-skinned" as they say, and my feelings are easily hurt where others may not think twice about something. But be that as it may, you'll notice that if you walk down the street with a furrowed brow, you'll meet other furrowed brows, but greet with a smile and you'll get smiles - and this can make someone's whole day.
Below is a poem by Rumi, - it is so eloquent that it really is all I should have written today. Think of everything above is merely a lead-in for this lovely piece:

The Guest House

This being human is a guest house
Every morning a new arrival.

A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.

Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they are a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture
still, treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.

The dark thought, the shame, the malice,
meet them at the door laughing and invite them in.

Be grateful for whatever comes,
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.

-Jelaluddin Rumi,
translation by Coleman Barks


Aris said...

Lovely. Thank you. It was a wonderful way to start my day!

Anonymous said...

Wow! I've been working on the very issue Rumi speaks of: personifying the negative feelings inside, in the context of trying to figure out what "turning the other cheek" means. I can more easily do this to the inner "bully"--anger, panic, shame: "go ahead and hit me again," I can say, and "he" is taken aback, and begins to dissipate. Very cool to read this. Sharon