You hold a grudge for years.
With such heaviness, how can you be modest?
With such attachments, do you expect to arrive anywhere?
Be wide as the air to learn a secret.
Right now, you're equal portions clay
and water, thick mud.
- Jelaluddin Balkhi (Rumi), "Bismillah"
* * *
There are storms over Saturn. That red spot is an eternal storm that has never receded. Somewhere in the unimaginable distance there are clouds of gas called "The Pillars of Creation" and new stars are birthed there. A hurricane spins over the Bahamas. In Roseburg Oregon parents are burying their children. 552,000 refuges have fled Syria and Iraq for Europe and have been met with hate and loaves of bread. Before that Europe slaughtered over six million Jews and Romani. Rumi died in 1273. A two degree celsius increase in the earth's temperature will wipe us out as a species. There is water on Mars. Oligarchs are now considered patriots. The Larsen B Ice Shelf will be gone in two years.
And you and I? Equal portions clay and water: thick mud.
* * *
The risk inherent in being alive is not that we will die (that is no risk at all, but a foregone conclusion), but that we will fail to live as we might have been able to except for our fears. We become mired in the immediate, in the false idea of our self-importance, of our worries, our insecurities and fears. We fear for money and love and success and power and comfort and ease and the faith that tells us God watches out for us.
I will argue that the whole of our evolution as a cultural species has been based on the idea of shelter: shelter from the storms of the natural world, the storms of tribal/temporal power, the storms of belief to house the fear we are alone and make it come out right. We are poorly suited to survival except for our very large brains and out of those brains we have built story and purpose out of the hardships of matriculating to this late hour: The Pillars of Creation be damned - I am the maker and destroyer of worlds.
And then there is the two of us: fucked, stuck and going nowhere. Our own shelters leak and the storms blow through. The comfort and security others feel in the profanity of their politics and religion and economics leaves us shattered and out of step. We are thick mud.
And the storm never ceases over Saturn.
And we'll never give up our guns.
And refugees will always suffer.
And the ice caps melt.
And the best we can muster is mud?
Rumi's poem continues:
Abraham learned how the sun and moons and stars all set.
He said, No longer will I try to assign partners for God.
You are weak. Give up to grace.
The ocean takes care of each wave
till it gets to shore.
You need more help than you know.
You're trying to live your life in open scaffolding.
Say Bismillah, In the name of God,
as the priest does with a knife when he offers an animal.
Bismillah your old self
to find your real name.
* * *
Our puniness is well known. It is bred in the bone, part of our DNA, the collective unconscious. It is why we place so much importance on the immediate and the ephemera of time: we can control this. But it makes us narrow. It makes us mean. It fucks us and it silences our truer selves. Bullies, assholes, fearmongers and screamers make it so we lose our voice. We give in to our puniness and seethe and cry and give other drivers the finger under our dashboard so they can't see it, but we can feel self-righteous in our snap judgment that they are the asshole and not us.
Bismillah your old self, my friend. It doesn't help you or anyone else.
You want to unfuck your life? Then be kind.
The ice caps are melting. Refugees are drowning in the Aegean. New stars are being born. It is all too vast for us to take in. Our spit of time to live is painfully brief, so fucking be kind instead of being afraid. We are self-important fuckers and we fail to see that we are not the ultimate expression of life, but simply one part of it, a corner of it made from the effluent of dead stars and we've soiled our nest and turned on one another because of our fears and still a storm rages on Saturn.
So be kind. It is our only hope, our only true shelter.
Just fucking be kind.
* * *