In today’s Wisdomism, I ruminate on Rumi once again. Enjoy!
AN EMPTY GARLIC
You will miss the garden,
because you want a small fig from a random tree.
You don’t meet the beautiful woman.
You’re joking with an old crone.
It makes me want to cry how she detains you,
stinking mouthed, with a hundred talons,
putting her head over the roof edge to call down,
tasteless fig, fold over fold empty
as dry-rotten garlic.
She has you by the belt,
even though there’s no flower and no milk
inside her body.
Death will open your eyes
to what her face is: leather spine
of a black lizard. No more advice.
Let yourself be silently drawn
by the stronger pull of what you really love. The Essential Rumi, p. 50
How often do we find ourselves distracted from the fullness of life by the old crone? How often do we miss out on the grand design because we are focused on one unimportant fig?
In this poem, I believe the crone represents hollow pursuits, including material gain. The crone has the young man “by the belt”. She has his full attention, even though there is “no flower and no milk” (she is lifeless, dried up.) in her. Meanwhile, the beauty of life passes us by until finally death takes us and we realize just how much time we wasted joking with the crone. We live in a world now where the crone has us distracted nearly 100% of the time. So often we must forsake the stronger pull of what we really love in order to survive. The crone holds all the keys and she constantly dangles them before us, tantalizing us, lying to us and telling us our dreams are just around the next corner. Just a few more years to retire. A little more money to save up. A little more of our lives lived and gone forever until it’s too late to do anything about it. No more advice.
We have the power to change the world. We have the power to write our own stories. All we have to do is turn away from the crone. All we have to do is look up from whatever has our focus and see the limitless possibility before us. We are only slaves because we choose to be. Because we believe the lies that have been ingrained within our collective consciousness. I, for one, choose to believe it’s time to wake up and follow that stronger pull.
I’m fairly sure some of you have heard of Robert E. Howard. I’m sure all of you have heard of Conan the Barbarian. Conan was Howard’s most popular character though he birthed many others. He’s also credited with single-handedly creating the genre of “sword and sorcery”. Where did this pioneering writer see most of his works printed? Strictly in pulp magazines. The junk mags of the depression era. He, sadly, never published an actual book during his life. Today’s anecdote comes from a conversation he had with Novalyne Price Ellis, the local English teacher.
Ms. Price commented that she wanted a side job writing for the pulps like Robert did.
He looked her square in the eye and said, “It’s one or the other. You can’t do both.”
—taken from “One Who Walked Alone.”
And isn’t it true? There’s this line. This unspoken step in the proper social progression. See, when we’re young, we have all these grand ideas for the legends we’re going to make for ourselves. We’re told over and over that we can be ANYTHING we want to be. So we want to be things like painters, actors, astronauts, writers and pro athletes. These desires ultimately shape who we become. But here’s the kicker: Somewhere along the way these dreams get abandoned.
Artists end up architects. Actors become politicians. Writers become English Teachers. And pro athletes sell cars. This happens in almost every instance because at some point most people abandon the search for their dreams and become comfortable in a “practical lifestyle”. But why?
“It’s one or the other. You can’t do both.”
So what about the intrepid fools who don’t give up? Some people never lose sight of their dreams. Some people can’t. No matter how hard they try to fit in, to become comfortable and complacent. Sure, these passionate fools cross the line from time to time. Even starving artists have to eat. But they never stay. The pull of their dream is too strong, their passion too great. For these daring individuals, life isn’t about seeing how high you can “level up” your material junk. It’s about creating. It’s about leaving behind a legacy that will live on and inspire lives long after they’ve passed.
Novalyne Price never wrote for the pulps. She was an English Teacher for most of her life and her only published work was a memoir about her experience with Howard that was written after she retired. And Robert E. Howard? He never crossed the line into proper social progression. He committed suicide at age 32 and his legacy survives to this day.
Tags: astronaut, career, celebrities, Conan, creativity, dreams, english teacher, Entertainment, jobs, life, literature, One Who Walked Alone, painter, passion, pro athlete, Pulp. magazines, Robert E. Howard, social progression, Society, sword and sorcery, unhappy, videogames, work, writer, Writing
beyond the boundaries
of secret folklore.
Do you know of what I speak?
Whispers of soft velvet dreams
blanketing you with naked grace.
Three hundred and eleven eternities
inside the black liquid glass
that paves the road
into the heart of nightmares and waking visions.
Awake, you sleeping giants.
Jason DeGray 2012
I’ll whisper to you
the delicate sagas of
a world before its fall.
The charming sonnets sung
by voiceless choirs of birds
will make the willows weep.
Hear the epics told with a zealous ferocity
by the warm summer breeze.
I’ll enchant you with the hopes and dreams
of a caring mother nursing a tiny life
to superior health.
Lady Gaia Moves beneath the
down-trodden hearts of men.
I will bellow the frustrations
of a raging storm bent on destruction.
I’ll tell you of the legends of
angels and men caught together
in the chaotic cycle of
Dream yourself through the Oblivion.
Let your life reflect the fantasies that possess you.
Breathe an atmosphere of beauty and hope.
Love the fact that you aren’t real.
Love the fact that this is all that matters.
Another great quote from Jung. In it, he muses on the lack of spirituality and neurotics in modern society. I’m telling you, this guy was on to something! Enjoy!
“I have frequently seen people become neurotic when they content themselves with inadequate or wrong answers to the questions of life. They seek position, marriage, reputation, outward success or money, and remain unhappy and neurotic even when they have attained what they were seeking. Such people are usually confined within too narrow a spiritual horizon. Their life has not sufficient content, sufficient meaning. If they are enabled to develop into more spacious personalities, the neurosis generally disappears.
The majority of my patients consisted not of believers, but of those who had lost their faith. The ones who came to me were the lost sheep. Even in this day and age the believer has the opportunity, in his church, to live the symbolic life. We need only to think of the experience of Mass, of baptism, of the imitatio Christi, and many other aspects in religion. But to live and experience symbols presupposes a vital participation on the part of the believer, and only too often is this lacking in people today. In the neurotic it is almost always lacking.”
The beginning of a piece written during the Year of the Monkey. To me, this piece represents my world, The Realm of Possibility, in its purest form. A blending of the fantastic and the mundane. An ordered chaos of inspiring events. Enjoy!
THE SUMMER OF THE MONKEY
by Jason DeGray
And there I was, caught in an explosive moment. One of those epic engagements of Romantic proportions. Life changed as the monkeys played, and I sat on the floor of the great hall in my castle named Mallard with my faithful companions in attendance. Here we entertained the musings of invisible bards while their timeless music titillated the most passionate recesses of our brains. Speed humps were ahead for we three cavaliers of mundane existence filled with the most fantastic hopes and dreams any mind could ever conjure. Yet there we were, amidst the certainty of our Divinity. We heeded no harbingers of destruction for none could truly touch us. It was our spirit that caused us to burn with intensity while it slowly soothed the old wounds with a salve of Byronic Sadness and regret. We kept memories as favors of love from Mistresses of Mist and Tears.
As we journeyed through the thick fog of haunted woods, we brandished our armor bravely and smiled in triumph as demons fled from our presence. There were countless tales of our deeds, if not in the minds, then in the dreams of people as we passed through unknown but not unseen. Often we found ourselves in the higher planes of Gaia adventuring amongst places unfamiliar to us. We chose our weapons and as new worlds were opened to us we charged in on our valiant steeds: The Mistress, Marley and Mary’s kiss (a most delicate and slender beauty that turned the most breath-taking colors the more you loved her). These were our companions on our numerous undertakings. We were lords of a sacred flow.
A bunch of pretty boys in search of the next exciting hunt. “Why else would you all hang out together?” If only they knew. Souls were on the line in this theatrical production for the amusements of bored Gods.
“Take this coin. Give it to the River Keeper at the River of Destiny.” The story unfolds for the brave Pirate Prince Perfidious. He holds on to the fated coin with a desperate intensity. He would part with his life before he parted with his destiny. But wait! Don’t step over crumbling edges just yet! For…
…the stars twinkle a new chapter.
“The fairy queen waits for you under the Ancient Oak. Let the moon shine your direction.”
What is a brash noble to do with such complexly simple instructions? Ah, but that is what dreams are for…to tell us the stories only our souls can hear.
And now I find myself amidst happier passionate times as I danced with my lost lover amongst the Dwelling Places of Angels. We danced the Dance of Tongues that rivaled those of the goddess Coitus herself. We would pay for that Divine Insult with our hearts. The night quieted for us as she sighed and promised me the promises of soul-lovers. Those covenants come in soft breathy whispers gently, sensually traveling on a delicate air of precious intensity into the all too receiving ears of an enraptured lover. It was there I found myself–In an exotic place-in an exotic time. Life could be no better. But it dissipates and returns to lurk in the shadows of my heart.
I return to the noble Pirate Prince. A dashing young fellow of good wit and a charming smile. He had the aura that attracted a particular type of girl. Which he obstinately rejected for he was lovelorn for another. He played the part well. Don Juan is most proud of his unknowing protégé. But he is what he is, we are what we are. Cream style mocus saturating the scene. Social chameleons most sly and charming.
Why else would a bunch of pretty boys hang out together?
“So hold on,” she sings. “Take me with you.”
Alas we know not where we are going. That’s why we are a Love Cliché. Valiant young cavaliers intent on conquering experience as well as ourselves.
There was the Duke of Slide. Sketching pain across the grand table of our dining hall. He had been recently divorced from some twisted engagements of Love. He sat on the Precipice of the Monkey; deciding if he should fall and re-gather the pieces of his broken heart. The moon rose as he wept blood for the loss of that particular piece of himself that will eternally bear her name. Yet he is strong. His resolve is unequaled in the realms of Here or even There. And I Notice the gleam in his eye. That laughing charmer completely securing the hearts of many a maiden without much aid or care for the matter. He we admired for his strength and grace, for his charming affectionate aura that radiated from him and controlled every mannerism of his exciting spirit. But mostly he was admired for his intense passion and his connection to the flow that governs this adventure. Without him I would have certainly been lost.
And I? I found myself swimming in a sea of Broken Krystle—tiny shards biting into my weathered skin mixing blood with tears. It’s the sky that weeps for the raping of my gray shrouded spirit. I announce my plans to retire.
“They’re not going to give you a watch man. You should smoke a cigarette with me first. Look at it this way: you’re on the clock. You’re fucking them.” This retorted to me by the Duke in a most Hunter of vocal intonations.
She cries because she is ancient.
She worships the moon
listening for lunar whispers
to lead her to forgotten holy ground.
She loves the sun when she laughs
and hides her tears in the rain.
She exists within the pulse of the Flow.
But then again…
it’s all a Flow
and she knows.
She weeps because she is primitive.
An unheard melody in a civilized symphony of distraction.
While all the big machines and gadgets of the World fight
and the men with big brains and guns destroy,
And they always fail.
The wind still whistles.
The birds still sing.
She cries because she is all that is left of a Radiant Spirit.
And all her children mourn with her.
If she dissipates…
Then so do you…
So do I…
She is Gaia’s perfect creation,
and the comfort of a mother’s caress.
She is whatever it is that will save you.
Look for her
hiding inside the subtle redemption found in dreams.
I wish to know where creases lie,
sensual lines that are a road map to your desire.
Can you feel me now?
Feather light fingertips
and soft skin weeping.
Trembling through its tears,
begging for a release
it hopes will never come.
What if we fade away softly?
What if we are no more than the Breath of Dreams?
Just two soulful bodies doomed to be Holy.
I think, maybe…but what if…this weren’t where it ends but where it begins…or ends or begins or ends or begins… What if it were a cyclical evolution—a grand spark of hope in the minds of fractured men called “great thinkers.” But this time…something enigmatic like when a glance becomes a symphony of whispers. Might as well turn it into something legendary. This sad race needs new lullabies to sing to its restless young. Why can’t you? Why can’t I…become a Lullaby?
I swear that somewhere underground is the real heart and soul of dark shadows back from the brink in new shades of gray. Maybe the importance lies in only feeling luscious. Wow, to think it could be as simple as that. But, why can’t it be? It’s just as easy to shatter (we all do it. The difference is we don’t fucking need all the king’s horses and his men. We have drugs to put us back together again.) Is there something more? Some exquisite level where a new energy becomes the indulgence of excited essences.
“How was it in the dream? You know…” In situations such as these one cannot afford a moment’s hesitation. In a night’s tale Scheherazade saved a life. In a thousand, she became a queen. I’m not exactly sure what that meant, I realize this now. But I think it has something to do with the Song of Solomon. Such an eloquent example of erotic love. In that moment, I see it now, it’s the kind of purity found when two lips meet. It tastes like a secret conversation under moonlight’s canopy, like an Italian love song and candlelit tables with checkered cloths.
That is my final answer to that timeless question. If I had the words to properly describe it, I wouldn’t be a poet, I would be a god. And sadly, some things are not for the likes of Cain’s children (we are an unfortunate lot of magnificent souls). We are not the product of history’s mistakes! We just couldn’t make our secret holy. So fuck them. Who needs their pompous god? I choose to worship in the temple of Surprising Truths.
Surprising Truth Number One: You know that place you used to go as a kid? That place where everything was perfect, there was no evil or wrong, just innocent holy moments. That place that dried your tears with the gentle brush of Gaia’s fingers. That’s the way it felt (the way it feels).
If it’s not okay, then what can it possibly be? There’s no time for the fine points of necessity and greed. There is only time for misty remembrances of things like the Rat Pack and all the rest of the good old days that somehow slipped out of our desperate grasp and plummeted into the oblivion of pop culture. I don’t want to be oblivious. I don’t want to be pop. I don’t even want to be culture. I just want to be an idea inside the memorial of the three rational questions (an ideal slightly to the left of a shifty eyed paperclip that knows too much for its own good.). If it’s not so predictable then what’s the harm? The true catastrophe rising is the realization that there are no conundrums to explore. So sing to the Tao, not in worship, but more in acknowledgement that it loves you (even if it doesn’t know you. [Like Jesus Christ’s private collection of souls he keeps hidden deep in his sock drawer.]).
I hate those eyes that glare at you tragically in black and white. Theirs is an infinite stare of passive longing. These are not the old days. The new era has begun, it always does. Why fight it? We can’t. The Flow carries us along regardless (that’s the reason we love it almost like blurry smiles in a peaceful opus). I wish I were Plato. I want to understand perfection, to know what it is to be at that pinnacle of the grandest hope of all mankind (for most of us spend our lives knowing imperfection but never understanding it. At least I can say I’ve progressed that much farther.). Embraces are warm and reminiscent of delicious summer breezes.
I wish I could see the light. So, I wrote this thing. You know, more like a prayer than
a hymn (so the shining emeralds tell me. But who ever believes them?). Sometimes I wish that life were a moonlight serenade underneath windows of lovely and elegant ladies. Sometimes I wish it could be just like (right now I’m having an 80’s flashback. Lots of red leather and bad haircuts. Have I found a window into hell?) it was that time that I looked over that cliff and my body told me exactly what it would feel like to fall. Who am I writing this to? What am I trying to say? I think you know. You know exactly who I’m writing this to. Your cleverness is truly a magnificent wonder. I think we’re safe, though. The sky still hasn’t fallen. (And fuck that little light bulb that appears above the heads of things when they are able to extract an idea from their junk food dependent and lazy brains. I really, really hate that fucking light bulb.).