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.
She met the Old Man when he rescued her from the cult. Well, rescue is such a—what’s the word? Subjective. Yeah. Rescue is a subjective term. She was broke, see? And living on the road like so many were in those days. In those times, right after everybody admitted to themselves that things weren’t going to get better, people finally stopped looking to the governments or corporations to save them and hold civilization intact. Those were dark times. Depressing times. Brutal and terrifying times. Whole cities burned to ash. But they got what was coming to them in the end, I suppose. So it was no big thing for a pretty young girl to be a broke vagrant scamming for a few bucks and a hot meal.
Cults had started popping up in those days like pimples on a fry cook. Something to do with the last cries of the desperate to a deaf and apathetic God, I suppose. Lots of cults offered signing bonuses. $50 dollars and a ham sandwich is what she sold her eternal soul for…or tried to anyway. Before the pen was slapped from her hand and the needle for the blood sample deftly snatched and shoved into the cult nurse’s arm. Howled like a stuck sow, too. This caused the Old Man to chuckle.
The girl wasn’t laughing though. She turned on her would-be savior, eyes blazing like a chemical fire. “What the hellz with you asshole?”
The Old Man shrugged and fished around his patched coat pocket, producing a half-smoked cigarette. “Just saw you about to make a mistake and I couldn’t let you do it. You gotta light?” he begged.
“Fuck off, mister.”
“Ya know what they want your blood for, right?”
“It’s fifty bucks and a ham sandwich! Who cares why they want my blood? I haven’t eaten in two days!”
He shrugged again, his eyes glinting beneath the wide-brimmed hat that shadowed his face, even in the light. “Suit yourself. I’ll tell ya what. I’ll give ya $100 and a free meal, that’s right a whole meal, if you walk with me to the diner across the way there and let me explain a few things to ya.”
She eyed him warily. Rape and murder were daily threats for any vagrant, much less a 21 year old girl. But it was only across the street and it was in a public place.
“I ain’t gonna do nothin to ya. Hellz, you were about to sell yourself over to this kooky band of bullshit artists.” The cultists grumbled. “What have you got to lose?” He pulled a crumpled hundred dollar bill from his ratty jeans pocket and showed it to her. “See? Got the money. Now let me buy ya dinner, girl.”
She looked to the cultists who began protesting and forcefully urging her to sign. The she looked to the Old Man, eyes glinting and flashing a $100. “Sorry,” she told the cultists and broke from their grip.
They started after her, but a look from the Old Man stopped them in their tracks. “That’s right, you bloodsucking bastards. You see me. Now back off and go find some other vagrants to swindle.”
They backed away slowly, hands raised in surrender.
“Who are you?” wondered the girl.
But the Old Man didn’t respond. He grabbed her by the arm, leading her to the diner. “C’mon. Let’s get some food in our bellies. Could be the last cheeseburgers in the whole damn state.”
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