Monday, October 20, 2014

My Farewell

My Farewell

I sat around a fire and thought 
- of you. 

Take your greatest moment of pleasure,
and multiply that by a millionfold,
then you might barely 
conceive what I am talking about. 

Has your life been so restrained 
that you never collaspsed onto the floor
from ecstasy? 

As for me, nothing of me will survive,
so these poems are my farewell. 

To my readers, 

       What does it mean to lead a life in which you take this mantra to heart "nothing of me will survive"? Does it mean to use up every gift you have been given, to pass on every blessing you have received, to burn passionately the full width and breadth of yourself?
       When I graduated high school (June 2010), I asked my close family members and friends to write me letters for a “Time Capsule” that I would open upon my college graduation (May 2013). I asked them to reflect, to offer advice, and to emanate Love. The reason I have chosen to end with this post is because that is the poetry of Life, the hallowed words of the ones you love, the enriching spirits of those who love you. You won’t always feel connected to the words of Hafiz, though I hope within them you find gems and treasures and immeasurable worth. Conversely, you will often draw upon the encouragement of those near and dear to you. Hold close to these jewels, they are such gold to carry.

In closing, I would like to share some of the pertinent advice my father wrote to me in his letter:

“Dear Arden,

      As you start the next chapter of your life (or is it really a new road), it is appropriate to offer advice. As you know, I love poetry and I have often found wisdom to guide me in the short verse of poetry. We have both enjoyed reading the poems of Mary Oliver – “Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?” What will your answer be to this question? What will be your “credo”? – best translated as, “I have given my heart to”.

      You are an individual, trying to fit into this world. Treasure your achievements, find the joy of learning, and thrill in the discovery of not only new things, but also old things seen in a new way. You will meet many people and this is the best way to grow and change. Try to find something you love and you will never need a job. Try to find someone to love and you will experience all the emotions of joy, hurt, beauty – but it will make you have experiences that will fulfill your dreams.

     It is not important to measure the number of years that you complete in life. More importantly, you should measure the moments that make us human, that connect us to a spiritual place, or that enrich your soul.

So this is what I would like you to take with you into the future:
  • Strength – to persevere against the mountains 
  • Passion – to explore and question 
  • Courage – to continue when hope seems to fail
  • Honesty – to yourself
  • Love – for your family 
You are a great person. You will probably do great things.

           Love always,

P.S. I am also including a diagram for an origami 5-point star. Who knows, one day, it may be all you need.”

       That's just it, who knows what you will need one day? It may be Love, it may be Courage, it may be Laughter, it may be a kind word, a soft touch, a caring smile, or it may be a 5-point origami star. I will leave you all with this final line from Hafiz: "Laughter is when the spirit, like an arrow, takes flight above the hour's concern." 
      Thank you for taking this journey with me, it's been a great year!
      Wishing you all a life full of laughter!


Sunday, October 19, 2014

Riches Everywhere

Riches Everywhere

Don't envy my talents, 
or seek them.
For few could bear the suffering it took
to mine the jewels I have. 

There are divine riches everywhere.
The most natural way 
for most to find them
is by caring for those around us
as if they were our Beloved. 

       Do you ever consider yourself to be a gardener of life? Extracting the fruit from the root? Mining the gems of this Earth? Do you ever listen to the wind, and draw the Spirit from it? Whirl in ecstasy? Bow down in worship? The greatest challenge in life is discovering who you are. The second greatest challenge is being happy with what you find. Are you happy with the riches you have mined? Are you interested in scattering them abudnantly?
       1 John 4:17 (MSG): "God is love. When we take up permanent residence in a life of love, we live in God and God lives in us. This way, love has the run of the house, becomes at home and matures in us."
      There are two things I would like the share here. One is a fragment from the poem Gardener by Tagore: "Who are you, reader, reading my poems hundred years hence? In the joy of your heart may you feel the living joy that sang one spring morning, sending its glad voice across the years."
      The second is the lyrical poem, turned folk song, by Woodie Guthrie, This Land Is Your Land.

This Land Is Your Land (1944), Woodie Guthrie

Saturday, October 18, 2014

A River Understands

A River Understands

I think a river understands me,
I used to know my name,
and now I don't. 

For what does a river call itself
when it starts emptying into the sea?

Opening itself wider, until it is one 
with the ocean? 

I am like that with the world,
and in my union with all
you were there,
because you read this page. 

        Poetry often provides us with the words that voice our innermost feelings. From The Ballad of Ladies of the Past by Francois Villon: "Where is Echo, beheld of no man,/Only heart on river and mere, -/She whose beauty was more than human?/But where are the snows of yester-year?"
         Poetry implores us to question ourselves and in doing so, to understand ourselves. To know ourselves deeper than we might have, but entirely, like we should. Today I came across the poem Poetry, by Pablo Neruda, for the first time. It is beautiful and it illuminates the gift that poetry is to the soul.
Poetry by Pablo Neruda 
And it was at that age ... Poetry arrived
in search of me. I don't know, I don't know where
it came from, from winter or a river.
I don't know how or when,
no they were not voices, they were not
words, nor silence,
but from a street I was summoned,
from the branches of night,
abruptly from the others,
among violent fires
or returning alone,
there I was without a face
and it touched me.

I did not know what to say, my mouth
had no way
with names,
my eyes were blind,
and something started in my soul,
fever or forgotten wings,
and I made my own way,
that fire,
and I wrote the first faint line,
faint, without substance, pure
pure wisdom
of someone who knows nothing,
and suddenly I saw
the heavens
and open,
palpitating plantations,
shadow perforated,
with arrows, fire and flowers,
the winding night, the universe.

And I, infinitesimal being,
drunk with the great starry
likeness, image of
felt myself a pure part
of the abyss,
I wheeled with the stars,
my heart broke loose on the wind. 


Friday, October 17, 2014

Out Of The Mouths Of A Thousand Birds

Out Of The Mouths Of A Thousand Birds

Listen, listen more carefully to what is around you

listen for the chorus of the Beloved's name
for the Prayer Call rising up like the sun
out of the mouths of a thousand birds. 

There is an astonishing vastness of movement 
and life emanating sound and light
from my folded hands, 
and even quieter simple being and heart.

Quite your mind about the hundreds of things
that do not matter,
draw close to the thousands of things that do.

Post coming soon! :) 

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Open The Door or Die

Open The Door or Die

There is an invisible sun we long to see.
The closer you get to the present, 
the brighter and more real it will become,
even at midnight. 

Now take your wings,
wings filled with spirit,
and head into that stratosphere 
of the sun.

"Open the door or die," 
my master would say to me
when I was young. 

          I'm not going to blog about what this poem actually means, instead, I'll mention that this poem reminds me of Halloween because of the Teal Pumpkin Project - a initiative for kids with food allergies (like myself) that encourages people to raise awareness of food allergies by providing non-food treats for trick-or-treaters and painting a pumpkin teal - the color of food allergy awareness - to place in front of their house.
          I'm planning on doing it this year, as are many other people with food allergies, but one of the posts that really struck me is by a mom whose child does not have food allergies, she just wants her daughter to grow up concerned about the welfare of others. You can read their story here.

The Teal Pumpkin Project

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Fiddling With The Idiot

Fiddling With The Idiot

Once when I was fussing with my hair 
in front of a mirror, 
my master walked by and said: 

"Why are you always fiddling 
with the idiot? 
You should starve him a day or two
now and then."

Once a week I started abstaining 
then it turned into twice a week
then four times
then not at all
and I left each morning looking 

                I love this poem, it brings up an extremely relevant point in life, which is what are you worshipping? Is it the mirror and how you look? Things that are obviously out of your control? Do you judge yourself by its standards? By its beauty, or lack thereof? Read again Hafiz's closing line...he abstained from the mirror and felt hopeful. Likely because he no longer thought of age stealing youth, of health conditions stealing complexion, of comparison to others, of comparison to his former self. Yes, avoiding the mirror can make one feel hopeful. 

We Wear the Mask
by Paul Laurence Dunbar 

We wear the mask that grins and lies, 
It hides our cheeks and shades our eyes,— 
This debt we pay to human guile; 
With torn and bleeding hearts we smile, 
And mouth with myriad subtleties. 

Why should the world be over-wise, 
In counting all our tears and sighs? 
Nay, let them only see us, while 
We wear the mask. 

We smile, but, O great Christ, our cries 
To thee from tortured souls arise. 
We sing, but oh the clay is vile 
Beneath our feet, and long the mile; 
But let the world dream otherwise, 
We wear the mask!

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

What You Really Want

What You Really Want

There is not a waking moment that you are
not trying to savior what you have,
or get closer to what will bring you pleasure. 

Being so preoccupied as we are with needing to be
satisfied, it seems we would be better at it by now: 

that happiness would be our norm, not a rare event. 

No heart can make love to its source
and then can turn its back on the Truth of your destiny
which is -

someday you will never know pain
you will never know loneliness
you will never know sorrow 

instead, you will be the very fountainhead
of all dance, all laughter,
all Light. 

       Today I turned 22, it was great! I love this poem because it is sooooo positive and so hopeful. It transports you to another world, and that's exactly what good poetry, art, and literature should do. Poetry (and life for that matter) is about creating words (moments) that touch you, that challenge you, and that encourage you. I am so grateful for another year!
       I chose to go to Eastern State Penitentiary for my birthday and it was great! I highly recommend the "3D Experiment" section of the haunted house. It was fairly sunny out today, no rain, and I thought as we drove into Philadelphia of the e.e. cummings line: "peering from some high window; at the gold of November sunset (and feeling: that if day has to become night this is a beautiful way)".

Celebrating at Hickory Lane Bistro