Oh, hello … Would you like some tea?

Synchronicity & poetry?  Reading late one evening in a book about managing a health challenge, suddenly up pops my long-term Sufi Friend from the 12th century, Jalal al-Din Rumi, in his poem sometimes called “The Guest House.

Visitors … at Akha Hill Guest House, Chiang Rai, Thailand (not my imagery)

The medical researcher’s paraphrase of Rumi is intriguing:

Each person is like a rooming house
and each day into this rooming house
many Visitors enter and leave.

Visitors wanted and unwanted.
A bad mood, sadness, a fear, an unfulfilled longing,
an emptiness or sorrow
And, of course, a tickle and laughter, love and joy.

And the great question — what to do with all who enter?
I say, invite them all in, make them all at home.
Joy and love are easy … hello, joy and love.
But also invite what may be painful and uncomfortable.
Invite what falls on the floors strongly enough to make the whole house shake!

In fact, the unwanted guests may help you
and wake from sleepwalking through your life.
They may help you discover
what you never thought was possible within.

So when Visitors come to the door of your rooming house
Visitors that are difficult by the standards of most,
Visitors that others hate or revile.
Invite them in, and say “Oh, hello …
Would you like some tea?”

Those unwanted guests may become your friends who help you open the door to your life and your heart.

as rephrased by David Wise, Ph.D., Paradoxical Relaxation

This led me to search out the timeless translation of Rumi’s contemporary American master interpreter. Contrast its elegance and sparseness:

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.

translation by Coleman Barks, The Illuminated Rumi

Both speak powerfully to me … at a time of many Visitors.

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Eye-Popping Talk on Gratitude

American cinematographer Louis Schwartzberg, a pioneer in high-end time-lapse imagery, inspiringly speaks on gratitude at TEDx San Francisco earlier this year:

Did you know that 80% of the information we receive comes through our eyes? […] and aren’t we grateful for our brains that can take this electrical impulse that comes from light energy to create images in order for us to explore our world?

Mr. Schwartzberg reminds us how precious a gift life is, and how much beauty is present all around us — if we only open our eyes:

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Have you ever been in love?
Only then … can you photograph.

Alfred Stieglitz

Have you ever?

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Serendipity & Art

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An interesting lesson of the whimsy of opportunity when it comes to photography …

Jean and I ventured for a week through the amazing mountains on the Western Slope of Colorado. Traveling more than 1500 miles through the reputed zenith of brilliant montane landscapes and autumn aspen forests (Telluride, Ouray, Silverton, etc.), my photos were, for the most part, pedestrian. After all – and despite Jean’s openness to stop and pause while I set up my gear and framed shots  –  car trips with a spouse almost always begin after breakfast and certainly end before dinner. The light is overhead and compromising (this is not the Golden Hour times usually required of magic camerawork). And, a certain pressure not to tarry (with your non-photographer companion) isn’t helpful either.

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