It's Raining Books!

"You have the energy of the Sun within you..."
Just the other night, my homegirl Lacey and I, went for two coconut oolong teas at a cozy spot called Physical Graffitea, in the SOHO area of NYC. We stayed there for hours, catching up and making plans for an upcoming venture that we have in the works. 
On our way back uptown, we decided to step into Urban Outfitters, to look for a new camera bag for my Nikon. As we walked down Broadway, we were surprised to see a young man sifting through a pile of books in the middle of the sidewalk, right in front of an old phone booth. It was quite peculiar. 

"Hey! Those are for sale or something?" I asked. 

"Nooo.. It's crazy. Someone just threw them away. This is trash. Look through them! Pick out what you want!"

"Wow!" Lacey and I were excited. We are supreme book-whores... that's certainly not a bad thing, if you ask us! It's crazy though! It was almost like those books fell right out of the sky, just for us. 

Lacey grabbed "Girlfriends", a novel by Carmen Renee Berry, while I picked up "The Language of Life" by journalist, Bill Moyers. 

It just so happens that it's a compilation book of poetry by over 20 of the greatest poets of our time, including Rita Dove, the first African American poet laureate of the Poet Library of Congress. 
Throughout each chapter of the book, Moyers interviews each poet about many of their poems. It's amazing to learn the symbolism behind each poem from the poets themselves. Definately a text I can't wait to use in my classroom!
Today, I sat outside, under a tree and read a great bit of it. So far, one of the poems that has resonated with me the most is called "Strange Business" by Coleman Barks.. But it's interesting because it was inspired by Rumi, 13th century mystic poet and theologian. 
Here is the original 
"Strange Business" 
by Rumi. 

You sit here for days saying, 
This is strange business.
You’re the strange business. 
You have the energy of the sun in you, 
but you keep knotting it up at the base of your spine.
You’re some weird kind of gold that wants to stay melted in the furnace, 
so you won’t have to become coins.
Say ONE in your 
lonesome house. Loving all the rest is hiding inside a lie.
You’ve gotten drunk on so many kinds of wine.
Taste this. 
It won’t make you wild.
It’s fire. Give up, if you don’t understand by this time 
that your living is firewood.
This wave of talking builds. 
Better we should not speak, but let it grow within.
*******
Here is the Barks' translation. 

If you don’t have a woman that lives with you
Why aren’t you looking?
If you have one,
Why aren’t you satisfied?
You have no resistance to your friend,
Why not become the Friend?

If the flute is too quiet to say,
Teach it manners.

Someone’s holding you back?
Break off!

You sit here for days, saying:
“This is strange business!”
You’re the strange business!
You have the energy of the sun in you
But you keep knotting it up
At the base of your spine.
You’re some weird kind of gold
That wants to stay melted in the furnace
So you won’t have to be coins.

Say “one” in your lonesome house.
Loving, too, is hiding inside yourself.
You’ve gotten drunk on so many kinds of wine
Taste this- it won’t make you wild- it’s fire!
Give up, if you don’t understand by this time
That your living is firewood.

This wave of talking builds.
Better we should not speak it
But let it grow within.

*** 

Quite compelling isn't it? From my interpretation, both versions are pushing people to stop being complacent. The authors are urging the reader to become useful in this world, not afraid of their own potential, which is one of the things that Lacey and I discussed in great detail during our conversation at Physical Graffitea. 

I feel like the poems are speaking directly to me... As confident as I am in my ability to effectively accomplish anything that I set out to do, there is still a huge part of me that gets nervous about being removed from the furnace and made into a solid coin. It's much more comfortable for me to stay in a place where I don't have to be spent... I fear that once I am spent, I cannot be refunded. In other words, once I put myself out there, there's no going back. It's a scary risk to take, however, both Rumi and Barks remind me that we won't know what may or may not happen if we don't even try. 

Whether it's with a relationship or with starting your own business... I truly believe that we were gifted with endowments and placed on this planet with the sole responsibility to use our talents to inspire others. Even if things do not last or end the way in which we originally planned, the experience itself is a stepping stone to higher heights than anyone has ever known ...and that's why it's scary...
Because we all fear the unknown. 
But again, you will never see how far you can go if you don't even try.  

So don't fear the world beyond your comfort zone. Like the Sun, use the energy that is within, and shine... 

love love,
V

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