Where Everything is Music

This week I have struggled a little bit with some of the Rumi that I’ve read. Here are a range of my journal notes: Reading Rumi’s poems, I wonder what it must have been like for him to try to portray through his words what his revelations were. How do you describe the sky to a blind person? It’s always there but it has it’s moods and is always changing. Even in the moment of describing the sky it may change before your eyes. On another day I wrote: I think Rumi is telling us we try too hard. Even if we do nothing we will reap the rewards of the harvest. And one day I questioned who actually wrote the poem (Only Breath) or who was it who inspired Rumi to write the words he did?

Today “Where Everything is Music” resonates with me. In 2015, as an adult with no musical background, I decided to learn to play cello.(Seen in the above photo!) I have loved every minute of the journey. It has been challenging for sure but it has opened my eyes to a world I had been on the periphery of before. I feel I have “opened a window” as Rumi suggests in his final stanza of this poem.

“We have fallen into the place

where everything is music.

Stop the words now.

Open the window in the center of your chest,

and let the spirits fly in and out.” ~ Rumi

Rumi compares love, his passion for life and living, to the intoxicating effect of music, with its enlivening effect on the soul.

Throughout the day today I see references to Bach and to Nietzsche, “Without music life would be a mistake.” Reminders of Rumi’s words are everywhere. A quote from Virginia Woolf falls open, “That is the quality which dance music has – no other: it stirs some barbaric instinct – lulled asleep in our sober lives – you forget centuries of civilization in a second and yield to that strange passion which sends you whirling round the room – oblivious of everything save that you must keep swaying with the music -” I listen to my favorite songs and I know that Rumi’s assessment of music will resonate with many!

Craftsmanship and Emptiness

Today I felt I was sitting at Rumi’s feet listening to him teach. His calm, gentle demeanor radiated out to create a calm, gentle atmosphere in the circle of his teaching.

“I’ve said before that every craftsman

searches for what’s not there

to practice his craft.”

Rumi goes on to say how a builder notices a hole in a roof, a water carrier notices an empty jug, a carpenter notices a house without a door. Each craftsman is looking for something that isn’t there so they can then practice their craft, have something to do. But then Rumi states:

“Their hope, though,

is for emptiness, so don’t think

you must avoid it. It contains

what you need!”

The poem continues with a teaching frm another Sufi mystic, Attar. As always, I am left with a hint of knowing but still not 100% sure of Rumi’s message. I am left with more of a feeling than actual knowing. But I believe from this hint of knowledge, great knowing can be acquired if I am patient.

Quietness

Rumi’s intense directive to make change in one’s life continues. This poem feels like it carries an assurance, a confidence, that we have everything we need to make this change, within us. All we have to do is slow down, quiet our lives and allow the change to show itself.

Your old life was a frantic running

from silence.

The speechless full moon

comes out now. ~ Rumi

The Reed Flute’s Song

“Language and music are possible only because we’re empty, hollow, and separated from the source. All language is a longing for home.” ~ Coleman Barks

The Reed Flute’s Song

Stay where you are

inside such a pure, hollow note. ~ Rumi

The last few years, perhaps because of Covid and the enforced isolation, each time I say good-bye when family leaves after a visit, I am filled with sadness. The scale of the sadness is in direct proportion to the joy I just shared while we were visiting. There are no words to convey the depth of my feeling. There are no words to hold all the love I wish to pour onto my loved ones. Although I have just spent a wonderful afternoon or evening with my children, or siblings, or cousins, I immediately long for more time with them once the door is closed and they are on their way. Is this even close to the longing Rumi is expressing?

Starting the year with Rumi

On December 30, 2022 I decided to read a Rumi poem each day. 365 days with Rumi. I have been wanting to do this project for some time; waiting for the “right” book, the right journal – maybe a lightning bolt for guidance. I realize I have everything I need. I just have to take the plunge and commit. No more dipping my toe and pulling back. I’m going in. I am excited to be surrounded by Rumi, to bathe in the waters of his teachings. I’m not sure what to expect. I look forward to the journy, the paddling about, maybe gasping for breath as I go under but knowing I will surface again. Maybe I will be able to look at life from a new direction, breathe more deeply.

Yesterday I was clever, so I

wanted to change the world.

Today I am wise, so I am

changing myself. ~ Rumi

Each day I have been faithfully reading a Rumi poem and writing in my journal. Today I have taken another leap of faith and come back to my ScribbleDarts to share my thoughts with who ever may care to read them.

January 13, 2023

The Fragile Vial (from The Essential Rumi translations by Coleman Barks)

Each poem of Rumi’s that I read is filled with an intense longing – for answers? – about life? love? Shams? He doesn’t tell us directly. We have to feel some of the unease that he does. Maybe then we will receive some of the answers he did. Reading Rumi’s poems leaves me feeling sometimes more than a little uncomfortable. Almost like I’m a voyeur witnessing an intensel personal experience. I’m not quite sure where to look or sit. Do I interact? Do I call bullshit? Or do I seek reverence? Seek answers, too? Or do I turn the page to a new poem? Rumi is feeling a little bit intangible to me.

Try and be a sheet of paper with nothing on it.

Be a spot of ground where nothing is growing,

where something might be planted,

a seed, possibly from the Absolute. ~ Rumi

Truth Stranger Than Fiction!

(photo credit: NASA)

A well summarized version of 2020 so far (credits to whoever wrote this, not me)

Dear Diary 2020 Edition,

In January, Australia caught on fire. I don’t even know if that fire was put out, because we straight up almost went to war with Iran. We might actually still be almost at war with them. I don’t know, because Jen Aniston and Brad Pitt spoke to one another at an awards show and everyone flipped the f— out, but then there was this thing happening in China, then Prince Harry and Meghan peaced out of the Royal family, and there was the whole impeachment trial, and then corona virus showed up in the US “officially,” but then Kobe died and UK peaced out of the European Union.

In February, Iowa crapped itself with the caucus results and the president was acquitted and the Speaker of the House took ten years to rip up a speech, but then WHO decided to give this virus a name COVID-19, which confused some really important people in charge of, like, our lives, into thinking there were 18 other versions before it, but then Harvey Weinstein was found guilty, and Americans started asking if Corona beer was safe to drink, and everyone on Facebook became a doctor who just knew the flu like killed way more people than COVID 1 through 18.

In March, shit hit the fan. Warren dropped out of the presidential race and Sanders was like Bernie or Bust, but then Italy shut its whole ass down, and then COVID Not 1 through 18 officially become what everyone already realized, a pandemic, and then a nationwide state of emergency was declared in the US, but it didn’t really change anything, so everyone was confused or thought it was still just a flu, but then COVID Not 18 was like ya’ll not taking me seriously? I’m gonna infect the one celebrity everyone loves and totally infected Tom Hanks, but then the DOW took a shit on itself, and most of us still don’t understand why the stock market is so important or even a thing (I still don’t), but then we were all introduced to Tiger King. (Carol totally killed her husband), and Netflix was like you’re welcome, and we all realized there was no way we were washing our hands enough in the first place because all of our hands are now dry and gross.

In April, Bernie finally busted himself out of the presidential race, but then NYC became the set of The Walking Dead and we learned that no one has face masks, ventilators, or toilet paper, or THE FREAKING SWIFFER WET JET LIQUID, but then Kim Jong-Un died, but then he came back to life … or did he? Who knows, because then the Pentagon released videos of UFOs and nobody cared, and we were like man, it’s only April …

In May, the biblical end times kicked off historical locust swarms and then we learned of murder hornets and realized that 2020 was the start of the Hunger Games but people forgot to let us know, but then people legit protested lockdown measures with AR-15s, and then sports events were cancelled everywhere. But then people all over America finally reached a breaking point with race issues and violence. There were protests in every city, but then people forgot about the pandemic called COVID Not One Through 18. Media struggled with how to focus on two important things at once, but then people in general struggle to focus on more than one important thing, and a dead whale was found in the middle of the Amazon rain forest after monkeys stole COVID 1 Through 19 from a lab and ran off with them, and either in May or April (no one is keeping track of time now) that a giant asteroid narrowly missed Earth.

In June, science and common sense just got thrown straight out the window and somehow wearing masks became a political thing, but then a whole lot of people realized the South was actually the most unpatriotic thing ever and actually lost the Civil War, and there are a large amount of people who feel that statues they don’t even know the name of are needed for … history reasons … but then everyone sort of remembered there was a pandemic, but then decided that not wearing a mask was somehow a God-given right (still haven’t found that part in the bible or even in the constitution), but then scientists announced they found a mysterious undiscovered mass at the center of the earth, and everyone was like DON’T YOU DARE TOUCH IT, but then everyone took a pause to realize that people actually believed Gone With the Wind was like non-fiction, but then it was also announced that there is a strange radio signal coming from somewhere in the universe that repeats itself every so many days, and everyone was like DON’T YOU DARE ATTEMPT TO COMMUNICATE WITH IT, but then America reopened from the shut down that actually wasn’t even a shut down, and so far, things have gone spectacularly not that great, but everyone is on Facebook arguing that masks kill because no one knows how breathing works, but then Florida was like hold my beer and let me show you how we’re number one in all things, including new Not Corona Beer Corona Virus. Trump decides now is a good time to ask the Supreme Court to shut down Obama Care because what better time to do so than in the middle of a pandemic, but then we learned there was a massive dust cloud coming straight at us from the Sahara Desert, which is totally normal, but this is 2020, so the ghost mummy thing is most likely in that dust cloud, but then I learned of meth-gators, and I’m like that is so not on my f-ing 2020 Bingo card, but then we learned that the Congo’s worst ever Ebola outbreak is over, and we were all like, there was an Ebola outbreak that was the worst ever?

In July … Aliens? Zeus? Asteroids? Artificial Intelligence becomes self-aware?

Sharing A Beautiful Artist

(The following article is from thisiscolossal.com a wonderful site of all things to do with art)

In The Redemption, photography-based artist Tawny Chatmon celebrates the beauty of Black hair through a series of arresting portraits superimposed with 24 karat gold flourishes. Each photograph features a solemn child who’s dressed in hand-painted ornate, gilt garments that are inspired by Austrian painter Gustav Klimt’s Golden Phase. “These portraits are meant to act as a counter-narrative and redemptive measure to uplift and elevate Black hair, tradition, and culture freeing us from negative stereotypes,” Chatmon says in a statement. “An intent, not to be confused with seeking validation, but rather an unyielding affirmation of Black beauty.”

By evoking Klimt, the Maryland-based artist hopes to elicit similar feelings as when considering some of the painter’s pieces like “The Kiss,” for example. “I remember being drawn to the details, the poses, of course, the gold, and the grace,” she says of her initial reaction to his pieces. The ornamental additions immediately signal beauty, which has many different meanings for Chatmon.

Beauty is every child in these portraits. Beauty is individuality and nonconformity. Beauty is something that you saw, that you can’t stop thinking about because it made such a good impression on you. Beauty is the way I felt when I got to hold each of my babies after giving birth to them. Beauty is motherhood. Beauty is when my 15-year-old son makes it a point to hug me every night and tells me he loves me. Beauty is goodness. Beauty is knowing you’re beautiful even in a world hellbent on making you think otherwise.

To explore more of the artist’s layered photographs that consider both personal and cultural conceptions of allure, grace, and strength, head to her site and Instagram.

Response to Just Wondering

Thank you to my friend Meghan for sharing this with me in response to my previous post questioning whether we really can see and feel what others see and feel.

We Are Not In The Same Boat

I heard that we are all in the same boat, but it’s not like that. We are in the same storm, but not in the same boat. Your ship could be shipwrecked and mine might not be. Or vice versa.

For some, quarantine is optimal. A moment of reflection, or re-connection, easy in flip flops, with a cocktail or coffee. For others, this is a desperate financial & family crisis.

For some that live alone they’re facing endless loneliness. While for others it is peace, rest & time with their mother, father, sons & daughters.

With the $600 weekly increase in unemployment some are bringing in more money to their households than they were working. Others are working more hours for less money due to pay cuts or loss in sales.

Some families of 4 received $3400 from the stimulus while other families of 4 saw $0.

Some were concerned about getting a certain candy for Easter while others were concerned if there would be enough bread, milk and eggs for the weekend.

Some want to go back to work because they don’t qualify for unemployment and are running out of money. Others want to kill those who break the quarantine.

Some are home spending 2-3 hours/day helping their child with online schooling while others are spending 2-3 hours/day to educate their children on top of a 10-12 hour workday.

Some have experienced the near death of the virus, some have already lost someone from it and some are not sure if their loved ones are going to make it. Others don’t believe this is a big deal.

Some have faith in God and expect miracles during this 2020. Others say the worst is yet to come.

So, friends, we are not in the same boat. We are going through a time when our perceptions and needs are completely different.

Each of us will emerge, in our own way, from this storm. It is very important to see beyond what is seen at first glance. Not just looking, actually seeing.

We are all different ships during this storm experiencing a very different journey.

Realize that and be kind.

Unknown Author.

“It is very important to see beyond what is seen at first glance. Realize that and be kind.”

Big Bad Wolf In The Mirror

It’s impossible to not feel something watching the marches and protests that are continuing throughout the United States, Canada and around the world. Some of the feelings are difficult to name and sit with. As a white, middle class female I have lived a relatively privileged life. It’s difficult to face how insidious racism is in our society and accept how unconsciously I may have been contributing to it. George Floyd’s death has ripped open a scar that will never be the same. The bleeding may stop but the wound can either heal or the infection become worse. I am asking myself, how can I, right now, look deeply at any way I can add love and compassion to question long held beliefs so that I may contribute to healing.

When did we become our own worst enemy.
Minnesota, land of 10,000 lakes -
they're practically Canadian.
A border and a name is not enough to claim
we are any different.
When did we buy into the lie
our leaders would have us believe
that they are looking out for our best interest.

An egg placed in hot water
becomes soft cooked after three minutes,
hard boiled after twelve,
after that shells may crack.
Gunshot explosions
when the pot boils dry
have us diving for cover.
Yolk sticks to the stipple
like only something contained 
and under pressure, can.

The world placed in a cell phone lens
becomes agitated in eight seconds,
the time it takes 
to form a first impression.
After eight minutes and forty-six seconds
it boils over, multiple "moments of truth"
crack
a two-hundred year old shell,
a police car, a parking space, a man's face
on the asphalt
When did a plea for mercy
become something to taunt,
a knee on a neck, an eye turned away

I have to remind myself to not look away,
to feel the discomfort, to see the obstacles,
see how we use our language,
the toys we give our children,
the messages in their spaces of learning,
Barbie and Ken in their Malibu home,
masculine control of naming and explaining.
What can we learn from Black Americans,
from people of color, 
how they inhabit their bodies
how they live in the world.

I have to remind myself to not look away.
The message sticks
like only something contained 
and under pressure,
can.