Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Guest House

There are those to whom explaining ourselves is useless. There are those to whom we can explain ourselves and rejoice that they get it. And, for some lucky few of us, there are those who get it so well that they explain us to ourselves. This, from such a one to rescue me from my own all-too-frequent-lately dark days:

Of course there are days where you would feel depressed. You have had the rug ripped out from under your feet. It's the shock of facing of reality versus expectations you once had. At 49, you would have thought you would be willfully sharing your retirement and second career with the original Campbell Clan under one roof, that you would be there to coach into flight your youngest as she begins preparations for college, that when you came home there would be someone who had likely at least started formulating an idea about supper and who could not wait to see you, you thought you would be Christmas shopping for your wife and with your wife, you thought you would still be jumping out of airplanes (THAT is what is wrong with you right there), and you thought you would be living in a place surrounded by good friends. Even your transitional aspirations of a yellow walled cottage with a porch have shifted considerably.

Instead, you are working for peanuts, up to your eyeballs in debt, getting a divorce, living in a white walled box with just your dog, working for a place that pretends to be more military than it really is, you have no idea where you'll be next year, there is no warm body in your bed (regardless of whether it puts out or not), and when you walk in to your apartment it is the wrong kind of quiet. Both your kids live far, you are constantly shifting your schedule to put others' needs before your own, the weight of tax and divorce paperwork presses, student grading and curriculum planning presses, and day to day, you go without the healing touch of another human. Swats on the back don't count.
And with the diagnosis came a prescription:
You need to re-read Rumi's poem Guesthouse. It is just for times like these.
So, for those of you who've never read it, here is Rumi's "Guest House." Peace ya'll. Doc.
The Guest House

This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.

A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.

Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they are a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still, treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.

The dark thought, the shame, the malice.
meet them at the door laughing and invite them in.

Be grateful for whatever comes.
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.

-- Jelaluddin Rumi,
translation by Coleman Barks