January 25, 2013

Beginnings are Strange

by Persian poet Rumi

Reason says, "I will beguile him with the tongue;"
Love says, "Be silent. I will beguile him with the soul."
The soul says to the heart, "Go, do not laugh at me
and yourself. What is there that is not his, that
I may beguile him thereby?"
He is not sorrowful and anxious and seeking oblivion that
I may beguile him with wine and a heavy measure.

The arrow of his glance needs not a bow that I should
beguile the shaft of his gaze with a bow.
He is not prisoner of the world, fettered to this world
of earth, that I should beguile him with gold of the
kingdom of the world.

He is an angel, though in form he is a man; he is not
lustful that I should beguile him with women.
Angels start away from the house wherein this form
is, so how should I beguile him with such a form and likeness?
He does not take a flock of horses, since he flies on wings;
his food is light, so how should I beguile him with bread?
He is not a merchant and trafficker in the market of the
world that I should beguile him with enchantment of gain and loss.
He is not veiled that I should make myself out sick and
utter sighs, to beguile him with lamentation.

I will bind my head and bow my head, for I have got out
of hand; I will not
beguile his compassion with sickness or fluttering.
Hair by hair he sees my crookedness and feigning; what's
hidden from him that I should beguile him with anything hidden.

He is not a seeker of fame, a prince addicted to poets,
that I should beguile him with verses and lyrics and flowing poetry.
The glory of the unseen form is too great for me to
beguile it with blessing or Paradise.
Shams-e Tabriz, who is his chosen and beloved - perchance
I will beguile him with this same pole of the age.

--translation by A.J. Arberry, University of Chicago Press 1991

One should not think that all is in the mind.
Mind may be the start, but the world is influence, and thus beginnings may often seem strange. They are so because what we may think and what we may feel are independent of others. It is in the interactions, the relations with others that our thoughts are tested, our ideas melded. 
In the melding process, the initial transaction may feel strange, for it is the maiden voyage of our interior thought sprung into the world; the world may see thru to its reception, or it may not. Then we modify to conform with our fellows, with our community, or we don't. 
At this point, it may be that despite a perception of strangeness, a decision is made to go it alone, in the face of the other and to continue on a path, as it were, alone with our first, interior thoughts now announced to the world.

I know of someone who once made the comment
that 'first days [beginnings] are strange.' While
initially charmed by the observation, I was unsure of its meaning. Along the way it has become more clear. It is in this instant when we first speak or interact that we are most vulnerable, that the thoughts we've nursed, the ideas we've held may be wrong, out of sync, ours alone--not shared by any other. Sometimes it manifests as an anxiety, an intense fear of not being heard, of not what we meant. And there it lies, out there for all to know and to evaluate.
 This sudden intensity may lead to feelings of combativeness or a desire for isolation, especially when we're not confident of the listeners' concern for our vulnerability. Let's face it, when we speak, we all want to be received as we mean or think we mean to be. And finally, beginnings may be strange because of two vital ingredients: giving and receiving. Love is like that too. And first days often are strange.

No comments: