Often times at the dinner table, my son and I talk about our day and we like to share one thing that happened that marked us because of its beauty, preciousness or simply because it touched us in a nice way.
So here is what my son, nine years old, has been telling me over the past eight days. It is in no order of importance, and none is more precious than another, they were equally precious at the moment in which they happened.
I wanted to share them because they speak of simple beauty, something we often forget about as we move along our days.
The sunset and the gold colors of the clouds.
That I answered my friend’s email.
The hot chocolate with the cappuccino milk you made me.
The music of Chopin I heard. — Chopin’s Piano Concerto No.2, Rubinstein at the piano.
When I saw your face as I came out of school on the first day back at school.
The scent of Jasmine at night that we placed in a glass in the kitchen.
The rain, especially during the afternoon downpour and the noise it made as it hit the windows’ panes with the wind.
In the early morning, he walks down the street noticing the lonely dandelion making its way through the cobblestones.
He looks up to the sky every ten steps or so, to better feel the softness of the clouds.
He smiles to the toothless neighbor because he likes him, and because he likes to see his toothless smile!
He hums an old tune from a scratchy and dusty opera that happens to fit his mood perfectly.
There are four red doors on the right and two bleu ones on the left.
In the open market, he picks up a few apricots. He loves their aroma and that they open up with just a press from the thumbs. He will make some apricot jam later and offer a jar to the toothless neighbor.
He exchanges a few words with friendly fruit vendors.
He greets the dandelion on his way back home hoping it won’t feel too lonely, and looks up at the sky.
The rain is coming. The air is filled with its scent, the clouds are a tint grayer and birds are flying low.
The village dreamer.
It could be me.
I am an epiphyte. The air and the rain sustain me. My tastes are rather simple you see, and I need nothing else.
Do not be fooled by the “K” at the start of my name. My heart is not a bureaucratic maze, very far from it; rather, it is the world around me that often seems to be.
I like to pick up dust from the ground and throw it over my shoulders. Sometimes, it even turns into gold, helping me and others find our way.
I see the infinitely small, I feel the infinitely big and they become words that I offer here for all the ones who care to read; for all the ones who, so kindly, allow me to lean on them in this world I often do not understand.
– An epiphyte is a plant that grows on the surface of another plant or tree. It sustains itself with the humidity from the air and the rain. An epiphyte leans on the plant or tree, and it is not attached to it (hence it is not a parasite); and it does not feed on it either, but rather produces nutrients that sustain it as well as any organism in its proximity. The best known epiphyte is of course the orchid.
– The “K” is in reference to Joseph K, in Franz Kafka’s “The trial.”
Hafez nous dit que l’œil connaît cent larmes et l’âme cent soupirs. Je ne les ai pas comptés.
Tout ce que je sais, est que mes soupirs montent au ciel et le parsèment de lumière ; alors que mes larmes ont créé une mer si calme que les étoiles aiment à venir s’y reposer.
J’ai toute la patience de la terre.
In a small village in rural China, there was a wise and simple man who had a horse, a beautiful horse. One day, the horse ran away. Some villagers paid the man a visit, telling him how sorry they were and how sad it was that he had lost his horse. The man answered: “maybe.”
A few days later, the horse came back with seven beautiful wild horses accompanying him. The villagers went to see the man again and told him how wonderful that was. The man answered: “maybe.”
A few days later, the man’s son who tried to tame one of the wild horses, was thrown on the ground and broke his leg. The villagers who came to visit the injured young man told his father that it was indeed an unfortunate event. The man answered: “maybe.”
The following week, administrative officials came by the house to sign-up the young man into the Imperial Army. Being injured, he avoided conscription. The villagers rejoiced and told the father how lucky he was. The wise and simple man answered once again: “maybe.”
On the story: This is an old Taoist story that I just put into my own words. The central idea is the one of not seeing advantages and/or disadvantages in things, in not weighting actions and things, in not qualifying them as good or bad. It is fundamental to Taoism. The great Taoist Master Lieh-Tzu (China 4th c. BCE) who lived a few centuries after Lao Tse (China, 6th c. BCE), the author of the “Tao Te Ching,” use to meditate on the “neutrality” of things as a way to go beyond them. The practicality of it as illustrated in the story, is to avoid anxiety by imposing or bending things with our mind.
As the “Tao Te Ching” says:
“When people see some things as beautiful,
other things become ugly.
When people see some things as good,
other things become bad.
Being and non-being create each other.”
(Ref: No. 2 of the “Tao Te Ching,” trans. by S. Mitchell, 1988)
In the middle of the night, I come out of the house with a soft squeak of the door. The scent of the garden greets me — the one that only comes out at night, a mix of jasmine and lime, transporting me to the ancient gardens of the Mughal Court.
The wet grass feels soft under my feet. My eyes look for the lamp, up there in the sky. But the moon is gone until tomorrow and I have no matches. The light of my heart’s flame does not reach that far.
I walk and I stumble on the basket. The one you left behind. The one filled with pieces of ribbon of multiple colours. All the ribbons are tied in knots. It will take me a long time to undo them, just like the ones you left in my heart.
I sit on the carpet, my fingers slowly tracing its intricate patterns. I wonder what the carpet weaver was thinking. He has left me few clues. I follow lines that go nowhere, jump to what seems like a flower or maybe a star, and get lost amidst its radiance.
Hafez tells us that the soul knows one hundred sighs.
Maybe the carpet weaver weaved his sighs into the carpet. Maybe the colourful patterns are calls to his beloved to come and sit next to him.
I am not a carpet weaver and you are far away. All I can do is let my sighs scatter light across the night sky, tracing the road you must take to come into my arms.
All I can do is wait – wait with the carpet weaver’s same infinite patience as he tied each knot thinking about his beloved.
I am tired now so I will slowly place my head on the carpet, and in the comfort of its softness, let my thoughts blend with its colours.
My eyes are closing. The faint aroma of Mohammedi rose water enrobes me, the same roses I once admired in Kashan, the same ones I use to flower apricot jam so that others may taste poetry.
I think I will sleep now. So looking east, I orient my last thoughts on your face hoping it may look up and see the road my sighs lit up for you in the sky.