Tuesday, October 22, 2013

If What You Say Becomes Memorable

If What You Say Becomes Memorable 
Most that is said is really like a distant echo.
Few minds are strong enough,

free enough of prejudice and arrogance for
original thought to want to pass through.

The body is a like a vase, a bell that can chime.
It does so to varying degrees in response to
every experience and feeling.

The value of vases can differ, as you know,
quite a bit.

How does heaven assign worth to our sounds?
It comes down to this:

If what you say or do becomes memorable to
another in times of need,

an ally are you then considered by the gods.

          Almost 700 years after his death, Hafiz’s words are still powerful. When he began writing poetry he chose the pen name, Hafiz, which is a title given to someone who knows the Quran by heart. With his teacher, Attar, Hafiz learned how the poet illuminates the spirit further with a pen. Adaptations and translations of Hafiz’s poetry exist in all major languages. When asked what accounts for the legacy of enduring words, Hafiz wrote the above poem.

         Below is an entry from The Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows, a blog project by John Koenig in which he names emotions that usually escape definition and contains them within a single made-up word. I have gotten lost reading his entries, it is amazing how he gives the life of language to experiences that we have all felt, yet lacked the ability to succinctly describe.

sonder (n.), def: the realization that each random passerby is living a life as vivid and complex as your own—populated with their own ambitions, friends, routines, worries and inherited craziness—an epic story that continues invisibly around you like an anthill sprawling deep underground, with elaborate passageways to thousands of other lives that you’ll never know existed, in which you might appear only once, as an extra sipping coffee in the background, as a blur of traffic passing on the highway, as a lighted window at dusk.

Here is his video illustration of “Sonder”:

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