As 2016 begins: some thoughts on light, dark and the curse of being right…

As part of the slow process of emerging snail-like from the tinsel shell of the Festive Season, and preparing to greet the new world of 2016, I checked my Stats yesterday for the first time in a while. They had increased by around 500% at the turn of the year. Why? I wondered, bemused. Here is the reason: Rumi’s wonderfully wise poem “This being human”. Do read it, if you have not done so already. It contains great wisdom regarding the turbulent duality of light and dark forces which constitute not only human nature, but also Life itself.

Light and dark are inseparably interdependent: maybe, Rumi is suggesting, it would be wise to honour them both, since those dark destructive energies which periodically sweep through, causing havoc personally and collectively, contain  messages, guidance  from Beyond, which are telling us something we usually do not wish to hear.

I am not alone in having had Life hurl me against the same wall a few times before I eventually ‘get the message’, and with painful slowness begin the process of change which is being demanded of me by a deeper, wiser Self –  that chip of divine light which is present in every one of us.

I was moved by seeing those increased stats, and finding the Rumi post to be largely responsible. A year’s turn, no matter what our beliefs, brings with it a deeply-ingrained, archetypal need to take stock, reflect on the year gone by, and perhaps resolve to make some positive changes in the New Year emerging.

Those of you who drop by this blog regularly will know how much comfort and inspiration I take from wise quotes– and from poems. It is good to know that so many folk share my need to turn to quotes, and poems, in reflective moments.

Writers offering comforting platitudes skimmed from a glide across the surface of life, or perhaps digging down a little, do not move me. My help comes from  those who look unflinchingly into the world’s dark heart without underestimating in any way the destruction and cruelty to be found there, but who can balance what they see with inspiring affirmation.

Despite all the awfulness of ‘man’s inhumanity to man’ which is an ever-present reality through the ages both personally and collectively, Life is full of opportunities to be ‘surprised by joy’, to seek and find meaning in even the most scouring of experiences. That is certainly what I have come to believe.

Some writers have a way, also, of reminding us of how we need to change by poking us where it hurts. Reflecting on the current dismal-looking state of  planet Earth and its denizens as 2016 begins, I was chewing upon one of my favourite anger-generating topics: how our need to be RIGHT  – and its world-wide manifestations via religious, political and scientific fundamentalism – has probably caused more bloodshed, mayhem and havoc throughout history than anything else, when I came across this short but pungent poem by the poet Yahuda Amichai.

With thanks to Monica Domino who published it yesterday on symbolreader, I offer you this as a New Year meditation:

“The Place Where We Are Right”

“From the place where we are right
flowers will never grow
in the spring.

The place where we are right
is hard and trampled
like a yard.

But doubts and loves
dig up the world
like a mole, a plow.
And a whisper will be heard in the place
where the ruined
house once stood.”

Yehuda Amichai

Yehuda Amichai

 

 

 

 

 

600 words copyright Anne Whitaker/Yehuda Amichai 2016
Licensed under Creative Commons – for conditions see Home Page

 

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7 responses to “As 2016 begins: some thoughts on light, dark and the curse of being right…

  1. Apart from John Ashbery, I usually can make sense — or at least some sense — out of nearly any poem. But this one? “The Place Where We Are Right?” It just didn’t make sense. For one thing, the place where we are right seemed as though it should be precisely the place where flowers would bloom.

    I figured it out. When I heard the expression, “the place where we are right,” it took me directly to the old Shaker hymn, “Simple Gifts.” The first verse, of course, goes like this:

    “Tis the gift to be simple, ’tis the gift to be free
    ‘Tis the gift to come down where we ought to be,
    And when we find ourselves in the place just right,
    ‘Twill be in the valley of love and delight.”

    I always think of the right place as the just-right place: not a hard-scrabble yard trampled by arguments, but a meadow, a mountaintop, a maze of a city — wherever it is that’s “right” for us. May that be 2016 for you, Anne — a time when you find yourself, again and again, in the “place just right.”

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    • Thanks, Linda. I was talking about the fundamentalist need to be RIGHT which has historically caused such havoc. My understanding is that the poet was addressing the same issue in an ironic tone which fitted my musings…however, one of the joys of poetry is that the perception of the beholder determines what it means to that person – there is no RIGHT interpretation of a poem…

      Thank goodness for that!

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      • Yes, I finally understood that. It just seemed interesting to me that my own (quite positive) association with being in the right place kept me from understanding the starting place of your post: the unfortunate tendency of us all to want to be the one in the right. On the smallest, most personal level, I once knew a person who automatically contradicted whatever anyone else said: just because he wanted to be the one wiht the right answer. Sometimes, he was as wrong as he could be, but people eventually learned to just walk away and let it rest. No discussion there!

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  2. So true! Thank you for sharing this musing, Anne. I was actually reflecting on just this in recent days, after a friend shared an experience with someone in her life who ‘always needed to make it a debate … and win it’. So yes, I’m with you on the whole ‘need to be right’ thing. It’s exhausting! 🙂 Happy 2016 to you (and enjoy the Deep Yin Winter season rhythms).

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  3. Happy New Year Anne! I thought I’d comment and shed a little light in the world. Here in Canada we have opened our borders to several thousand Syrian refugees. To see the smiles on the tired faces of mothers, fathers and children, and to hear their expressions of gratitude and hope for being welcomed to their new country, their new home, is indeed a blessing. We have opened our hearts along with our borders and in return we are getting so much more than we anticipated. This is truly a lesson in unconditional love.

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  4. Happy New Year to you, Bev! Good to hear from you. Thank you for this heartwarming post – we have all been observing with increasing horror those dark destructive energies sweeping through the Middle East, leaving trails of human death and misery in their wake. It is so good to hear of this example of the light of human kindness and compassion, in a very practical way, shining in your country. May ours follow Canada’s example…

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