What We Do, Redux

I’ve had some interesting conversations and comments made about my recent post about What We Do (What We Must, What’s Easy, What’s Fun), which I wrote as a response to Dave Pollard’s recent post.

It’s hard to be clear about these kinds of matters, as they are both abstract and philosophical and very grounded in the here and now. More than that, much of what I feel is not something I seem able to articulate. The times in my life when I have tried to articulate or encapsulate in words what I feel — those shimmering, glimmering glances, breezes and whispers — I’ve ended up simply creating rational reasons for something that seems at its basis essentially irrational. An explanation doesn’t seem useful. And yet what’s more interesting to many of us than to understand why we do what we do?

I did add an addendum to my original post, based on a conversation with a friend about these topics. It may not make anything clearer, or if it does, the clarity may be inaccurate.

In the last few days, I have come across a few quotes from other people that seem to express bits of how I feel about this (and the beauty of sharing these is that I don’t have to explain them because they’re not mine :-)) … See if they touch on any of your experience.

I’m taking a class on Rumi now and came across this yesterday in class:

“… when misfortune comes, you must quickly praise.

Others may be saying, Oh no, but you
will be opening out like a rose
losing itself petal by petal.

Someone once asked a great sheikh
what sufism was .
‘The feeling of joy
when sudden disappointment comes.'”

I love the image of opening like a rose, losing oneself petal by petal — the beauty and inevitability of blooming, which is dying, which is living.

And today I came across this by Alice Walker, another paean to the lack of expectation that welcomes surprise of any sort:

“Expect nothing, live frugally on surprise.”

These seem related to the idea that we do what we must, what’s easy and what’s fun because they seem to speak of a kind of surrender to all that is, to the possibility of any moment, which requires, I think, an attention to the flow of life, an ease with what is, a sense of play and lightness about this life-death dance.

I read aloud a poem in the Rumi class yesterday that also expresses some part of all this, for me:

Wanderer, stay hungry and
honor your exile.
Wherever we sprang from
in the first place,
that’s where we’re headed now.
Just don’t plan on settling here.
See how you begin to get vague
as soon as you make plans?

I have a continual sense of longing, of wandering and being moved along, perhaps toward home, perhaps towards wilderness, desert, garden … or this very moment.


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