Category Archives: Books

A good time of year to dance: Hafiz

Here is a phrase I’ve heard some lately: “If I don’t laugh, I might cry.”

Laughing is good. Or dancing!

The God Who Only Knows Four Words

by Hafiz, as translated by Daniel Ladinsky in The Gift: Poems by Hafiz the Great Sufi Master

Every
Child
Has known God.
Not the God of names,
Not the God of don'ts,
Not the God who ever does
Anything weird,
But the God who only knows four words
And keeps repeating them, saying:
"Come dance with Me."
Come
Dance.

What Should We Do About That Moon?

by Hafiz, as translated by Daniel Ladinsky in The Gift: Poems by Hafiz the Great Sufi Master

A wine bottle fell from a wagon
And broke open in a field.

That night one hundred beetles and all their cousins
Gathered

And did some serious binge drinking.

They even found some seed husks nearby
And began to play them like drums and whirl.
This made God very happy.

Then the "night candle" rose into the sky
And one drunk creature, laying down his instrument,
Said to his friend—for no apparent
Reason,

"What should we do about that moon?"

Seems to Hafiz
Most everyone has laid aside the music

Tackling such profoundly useless
Questions.
Photo by Helena Lopes on Pexels.com

Hasten slowly

“Hasten slowly and you will soon reach your destination.”  

—Milarepa, as found in Finding Water: The Art of Perseverance by Julia Cameron

But, how can we hasten slowly? Isn’t that an oxymoron?

And yet, it seems we do. All the good stuff comes out of hastening slowly.

  • A university degree: scribbling notes and typing assignments during caffeine-driven all-nighters . . . for four years
  • A thriving marriage: juggling careers and taking whirlwind vacations, chasing around after toddlers, paying down the mortgage . . . for decades
  • Children: pacing the floor during sleepless nights, car pooling to hockey games, gritting teeth at parent-teacher interviews, wanting everything to be perfect for them . . . for, well, forever
  • Published writing: handwriting first drafts, transcribing messy second drafts, editing, reading aloud, pacing, getting up in the middle of the night to change a word . . . for days, weeks, years

When rewards are slow coming, it is easy to get discouraged. Whether it is raising money for a good cause, learning a language, landing a recording contract, establishing the perfect garden, or mastering the “Moonlight Sonata” on piano, we must push on.

And if we stop typing, juggling, paying, pacing, gritting, planting, weeding, watering, playing, practising, reciting, conversing—if we stop hastening—then we never reach the goal.

Whatever your destination, hasten to it, and slowly you will arrive.

Bless that which you want

According to the ancient Polynesian wisdom of Ka Huna, we should bless that which we want.

The shamans of Hawaii use the power of words and mind to heal the self, others and situations. They believe:

  • If we resent people who have what we want, our resentment keeps what we desire away. (Don’t you want to avoid resentful people?)
  • If we believe ourselves unworthy of receiving, that drives away the object of our desire. (Wouldn’t you rather hang around with confident friends?)

Resentment and feelings of unworthiness are both negative emotions. When we bless, there’s no room for negativity. Blessing nuzzles it out of the way.

Blessing has no space for thoughts like:

  • “Oh sure, why does he get to live in a big house when I’m stuck in a tiny apartment.”
  • “Those shoes would look so much better on me.”
  • “I don’t want to be a multi-millionaire. I don’t want to have to worry about handling all that money.”

When we bless others, their day gets a little brighter, and we feel better too. The positives grow in an ever-expanding ripple.

What do you want to bless today? 

Learning through reading

I don’t know about you, but during this pandemic I have read more books electronically than ever. Without book stores or libraries, I have turned to e-books for my fix.

I prefer a paper book, but needs-must. The one thing I do like better about an e-book is the built-in dictionary. If I don’t know a word, I touch my finger and, voilà, there is the definition.

Here are some words I have learned in the past few months, used in a sentence:

glabellar: The smooth part of the forehead above and between the eyebrows. (Now that I’m older, my glabellar is not as smooth as this definition implies.)

synesthesia: A neurological condition in which information meant to stimulate one of your senses stimulates several of your senses. (Some people with synesthesia always see the letter A in the colour red, and when I see I word I don’t know in a book, I see red.)

faffing: [UK informal] To spend time doing a lot of things that are not important instead of the one thing you should be doing. (At a cottage it is easy to spend time faffing around instead of writing blog posts.)

hierophant: A person, especially a priest in ancient Greece, who interprets sacred mysteries or esoteric principles. (I need a hierophant to help me understand some things in the books I’m reading.)

tricoteuse: A woman who sits and knits, a reference to women who did this at public executions during the French Revolution. (I would be willing to become a tricoteuse during the trial of a writer who uses the word tricoteuse.)

prelapsarian: Characteristic of the time before the fall of man [Editor’s note: they mean people], that is, innocent and unspoiled. (In the prelapsarian Eden, people used non-gender specific language.)

hoaching: Full of or swarming with people. (During this time of pandemic avoid hoaching places.)

How are you reading these days? What have you learned from that experience?

Boy jumping off dock into a lake.
At a cottage it’s easy to spend time faffing around.

Just . . . know, or just . . . no

Do you ever hover between yes and no?

Saying yes can

  • suck away hours of time for a project you’re not passionate about
  • lead you to grand adventure, in the way of Shonda Rhimes
The book YEAR OF YES by Shonda Rhimes

Saying no can

  • save you from being used or abused, or from drugs as Nancy Reagan would have wished
  • deny you fun or a fantastic learning and growing experience

Some days, on the surface, it seems hard to decide. You have to dig deep before the answer is clear. When you do, you discover you just . . . know.

Other times the answer is spelled out.

In my cottage area, garbage must be protected from wild animals. Waste management workers need to access the containers, so parking in front of them is a definite NO.

I love the simplicity of the sign. One word. No explanation required. If you’re the person thinking of parking in that space, just . . . no.

You just know, or just no. The answer is always clear.