My Perfect Need

What does it mean to perfect my need?

My mind needs peace,
and that, You have granted me,
but Ultimate Peace is only with You.

My body craves pleasure,
and that You have granted me,
but Ultimate Pleasure is only with You.

My soul’s deepest desire
is to return home,
and that You have not granted yet,
but sometimes,
in my most agonizing hours,
my every effervescent moment,
You visit me
like an unexpected guest,
like an illicit lover,
like a powerful king,
like the Master of all that I am
all I ever will be,
and it is for these visits
that I live.

When You created me with Your Perfect Touch,
and sent me far away,
You rooted within me this need,
as a gift to guide me,
as a curse to cure me,
as an anchor to hold me down.

This need has always been perfect.
It is I who is just beginning to embrace it.

The more I voice my need,
the more it gets reflected back to me,
and reflected on to others,
until it grows to gigantic proportions
like a shadow,
like a monster,
glowing from one heart to another,
like love.

Instead of being patient, though,
I’m greedy.
What I really want
is to break through
this prismatic prison,
put an end to
this gleaming dreaming,
open up
this claustrophobic curtain.
I want to leave it all behind
for what lies beyond,
the blinding light,
the timeless,
spaceless,
Oneness,
of You.
Why do You call me closer,
if You don’t mean to let me through?
My need
is eating me
alive.

What can I do?
I must just let go
and fall back
into my skin-wrapped self,
live with limitation,
but also awareness,
that though a reflection does appear
in all the many mirrors I stand before,
it isn’t me I see,
it’s her.

An angel in the making,
rotten to the core,
Your humble servant,
Your sly sinner,
fully flawed,
and human,
bursting
with need.

This need has always been perfect.
It is she who is just beginning to embrace it.

Every One at Once

How is it possible to be
so many people in one?

A child buried inside a grown-up,
an ego hiding from its shadow,
a sweet and sour squirrel,
a tenacious yet tender tigress –
so many angles to this artist,
constantly molding and melting,
raising and re-sculpting
with the material she has,
the circumstances she’s been dealt.
A restless spirit
trying to perfect
her one and only masterpiece.
But there is no
one way
to create art.
All the options paralyze me:
contemporary or traditional?
kind or cruel?
mother or majnun?
shy or show-stopping?
masked or myself?
I choose them all.

Sometimes the weight of being
every one at once
breaks me.
Sometimes it’s the very thing
that glues me back together.
My power lies not
in how much attention I receive
but in how very much in love I am
with the artistry running through me,
the humble creator within a Creator.
This love is power
passed down,
blooming brighter
branching farther
growing stronger
each generation.

This power fuels me,
feels me,
fills me.

This power invites me
to play
so many roles,
try out
so many masks,
embrace
all that astounds me,
chase
all that confounds me.

Whoever said art wasn’t powerful
never met my Creator,
never saw themselves
for what they truly are –
a collaboration,
a celebration,
a masterpiece
in the making.

You Bake Me

You bake me,
You break me,
Your Fingers lovingly re-make me.

You calm me,
You cleanse me,
Your Energy, called forth, suspends me.

You whip me,
You wake me,
Your windswept words escape me.

You ground me,
You found me,
the beauty of Your earth astounds me.

You

set me

aflame.

Oh, to burst into a crackling fire
under a raging, rushing waterfall
and feel Your silky streamlets
flow,
slow,
against my red-hot
burning skin,
without ever
being
extinguished.

You Who crushes me,
then creates me,
spinning me in circles
like a tornado,
stealing my breath,
silencing my voice,
sucking my power,
till I have no choice
but to hold You tight,
be thrown into the unknown,
trying not to fight
this confusing dream
called Reality
so that I might face
my mortality,
all the while aching
on this journey
till I’m consumed by You,
made worthy.

You sink me,
You slay me,
Your Light is the One that will save me.

This Life is Made Up

This life is made up

of symphonies 

and capacities –

symphonies of sensation,

tickled, dribbled, 

splashed and savored

across the theater

of your mind;

capacities,

all equal 

yet unequal,

some able to skim only the surface,

others diving right in,

swimming expertly through meaning,

interpreting a few slices of sound.

This life is made up

of matter,

made up

of atoms and molecules,

made up

of electrons and protons,

made 

in a vacuum.

What else would you call an illusion?

Conjuring everything from nothing.

The only Reality

is the magnificent Magician,

Who,

with one word,

one breath,

brought forth

the most blissful symphonies,

the most diverse capacities.

Do you want to see another trick?

If you so choose,

if you believe,

you can dismantle this dream you inhabit,

reconstruct it into something new.

You can turn pain into pleasure,

water into wine.

You can create an illusion 

more to your liking

because this Magician 

never hides His secrets.

He reveals them in plain sight.

You create words to grasp them,

despite knowing,

they are ungraspable. 

You try, yet fail, 

try, and fail again,

to find Him.

If you aren’t careful,

your frustration at figuring out

just how in the world 

He performed 

His vanishing act,

might blind you to the beauty 

of what’s visible.

You understand only as much as He allows.

Let Him use you as His paintbrush,

but also His paint,

so He may know Himself better,

despite knowing 

He is unknowable.

You see, you aren’t just the art,

you’re also the artist.

the song and the singer,

the thought and the thinker,

the way and the witness.

Oh, what magic you can make!

What magic He sparks within you,

and through you,

and around you.

Like these words dancing on the page before you,

conjured from your feelings and fingers.

These letters making love to the listeners’ ears,

exuding energy, 

departing meaning, 

unlocking entryways.

His gift

to you, 

from you,

and for you.

What magic, indeed!

You see, you aren’t just the audience,

you’re also the illusion.

The Ultimate High

Once I experienced the Ultimate High,
my life couldn’t possibly hold the same lure.
I could return to a flavorless existence,
or I could keep coming back for more.

Now, prayer is no longer a chore,
but a love letter in motion,
Your remembrance is never forced,
but a daydream to get lost in.

I want every book I read,
every movie I view,
every conversation I have
to revolve around You.

Surrounded by other lovers,
I gaze deeply into their eyes,
looking for my reflection,
till the early hours of sunrise,

talking about sacred whispers,
transcendent states, lifted veils,
facing our inner demons,
enduring our personal travails.

All else pales in comparison.
One taste of You is so sweet,
so divinely succulent,
one bite and I feel complete.

Still,
I keep coming back for more.
What tasteless mire
was I eating before?

The Why Behind the Why Behind the Why

Inspired by Rumi’s “The Root of the Root of Your Self”

When I tune the whole world out
in order to look in,
I look for the why behind the why behind the why.

Why…do I feel so alone?
When I know that You are with me
everywhere I go.

Why…do I forget Your presence?
When I can see Your signs all around me –
water curled up in the clouds,
the freshest air atop the tallest peaks,
Your grand design woven through the very chrysalis of creation,
as mankind grows and evolves,
sinks and dissolves,
paints the world in ugly colors,
turns its mess into a masterpiece.

Why…do I not see Your signs,
even when my eyes are wide open?
Is it You who placed this veil on my heart,
or my inner demons who blinded me
by lulling me into soulless slumber?

Why…do I still then feel pain,
despite every attempt to be numb?
Is this a punishment for my many transgressions,
or a merciful reminder,
more bitter than sweet,
of the ache,
the longing,
to be whole again?

If you look for the why behind the why behind the why,
the answer to every question is You,
Your infinite love,
Your magnificent mercy,
Your enigmatic plan.

When I tune the whole world out
in order to look in
what I’m really doing
is meeting You at our favorite rendezvous,
dancing around You like a giggly school girl,
trying to get as close as I can.
What I’m really doing
is looking for the One
Who never gives up on me,
brings me gifts wrapped in pain,
wrapped in pleasure,
sends me love notes in every song I hear,
writes me poems in every word I read,
breaks my heart
only to put it back together again,
reminding me every second of every day
how dearly I am loved.

When the weight of the world overwhelms me,
I just look for the why behind the why behind the why
because that’ s our special spot,
and it’s a date for which You’re never late.

Your Gift

My every breath is for you,

but also,

from you –

a gift that often feels like a curse.

You gave me life,

when all I really want is to be with you.

The irony, though, 

is that when we re-unite,

I’ll be too far gone to know it.

You’ve given me this gift of the human experience,

that I may be aware of pain and pleasure,

that I may chart my own path,

creating heaven or hell on earth.

You’ve given me distractions, too,

responsibilities and relationships,

agonies and enchantments.

You insist upon this gulf between us,

making sure that when I get embroiled in this earthly existence,

I will forget you.

But, here, too, your penchant for irony abounds,

because if I don’t forget you,

then how will I ever know the ecstasy that comes 

with awakening to your memory,

of realizing I’m not alone,

and never have been?

Like a child in her mother’s warm embrace,

a lover in her partner’s adoring gaze,

I will feel the relief that comes with surrender.

No matter how far you send me, 

I will find my way back.

Being apart from you is excruciating 

but exquisite, too.

You are the only thing 

that fills the void within.

I see you everywhere –

in the people I love,

and the people I try not to hate.

I see you in the movies I watch

and the books I read,

in mankind’s evolving knowledge of science and space,

their growing wisdom of the mind, body and spirit.

I see you everywhere

and nowhere,

and all I have to keep for myself,

as undeniable proof of your love,

is your gift.

This breath.

I will honor this breath as best as I can.

I will honor this breath as best as I can,

but even when I can’t,

when I mix up my realities

and mess up my priorities,

your gift will still be with me,

never judging,

only loving.

I’ll know that as long as I follow the trail of that breath,

and remember you in my every step,

I will never be lost.

In this moment,

with this breath,

I am yours.

I am yours.

I am yours.

All Stories Can Be Summed Up Into This One Line

We are one.

Whether it’s a Regency-era novel or reality TV, self-help books or Sufi poetry, indie movies or Insta highlights – every story we read/hear gives us a peak into someone else’s life.

The story might be set in a past or future landscape, and take place halfway across the world from you. It might be an encapsulation of one person’s emotions or her description of a moment in time. Whatever the story, each one shows us another perspective, another life into which we could have been born. But just because we weren’t, doesn’t mean we can’t try to understand what it’s like to be “other”.

Stories create empathy. They allow us to see ourselves in others. And if we can truly see our reflection in another person, or in several other people, or, indeed, the whole of mankind, we would realize that we’re all the same. We each have a human body with a soul or consciousness. We all go through the same cycles of life and experience the same laws of nature.

If you walked down the street today, and passed by someone who looked exactly like you, perhaps you’d be more likely to smile and say “Hi!” If your enemy suddenly transformed into your mirror image, you’d probably be more likely to resolve your conflicts and forgive him. What if you saw yourself on the news, being attacked or oppressed in some way; wouldn’t you be more likely to help yourself? To speak up, to tell your story, to call out injustice. To create an uproar.

We are one. And like some idiot who hammers nails into his feet and sets his hair on fire, we’re only hurting ourselves by not taking care of each other. It’s only natural for our world to be in pain right now. It’s a symptom of all the damage we’ve inflicted on each other. What’s unnatural is for us – all of us – to not be screaming out in anguish.

Dayton. El Paso. Chicago.

Kashmir. Palestine. Syria.

The Amazon Forest. Our polluted oceans. The toxic atmosphere.

There is no lack of stories to be told, people and places to be cared for. And the great thing is, there is no lack of love in this world, or positive energy with which to spread that love.

So next time you’re walking down the street, see if you can spot yourself – your thoughts, your emotions, your experiences – in the person that passes you by. Then take a moment to wonder what that person’s story might be. The tingle that you feel in your heart? It’s called Empathy, and it’s just another word for Love.

What Does it Mean to be Free?

Sometimes I wonder what it would be like

to evaporate into the air,

transform into a molecule of oxygen and join the rush of wind

as it enters my house through an open window,

flowing past me in a wave of ecstasy,

before rushing out again.

I wonder what it would be like to fly,

to feel the coolness of the breeze and the warmth of the sun at the same time.

But not just to feel the breeze,

to be the breeze,

leaving everyone I pass in a state of bliss.

I wonder what it would be like to feel my own self so fully,

my own little universe in my own tiny molecule,

but also, to be a part of something greater than myself,

the collective expanse of air that makes up our atmosphere.

I wonder what it would be like to fly through the world,

and go anywhere I wanted,

not rooted to any spot,

not bound by the limitations of geography

or the human body.

I wonder what it would feel like

to own this world.

All my life I have felt unanchored,

adrift at sea,

and uncomfortable,

in a way that disturbed me when I was growing up.

The fact of the matter is,

I’m still growing up.

I used to spend each day

trying to figure out why I felt this way,

why I couldn’t feel at peace in the security of my family,

the walls of my house,

knowing that I was loved

knowing that I was taken care of.

Why wasn’t that enough for me?

Now I’m starting to think

I was never actually meant to cling to anything so tightly in the first place.

I was meant to be free,

I just never understood how.

Why would I want to hold on so fiercely to things,

to relationships,

to moments,

to concepts of home,

that are all just constructs of my imagination,

none of them permanent?

No matter how precious they are to me,

I have no control over any of them.

In fact, I have no control over anything.

And that’s why I need to learn to be okay

with just being that free-floating molecule of air,

whether I’m lying stagnant on a hot summer’s day

or whipping about in a fevered frenzy,

or even being thrown from one side of the world to the other

in what feels like a catastrophic storm.

I have no control over what happens in this world.

So why am I trying to grasp so fervently onto what are,

essentially,

clouds,

reassuring and ephemeral,

beautiful yet banal.

I need to learn to let go.

I need to learn to let go

and just enjoy the ride.

Maybe then being unanchored will feel more like freedom.

I am larger than what my body allows me to be.

I am a force of nature, bursting at the seams,

as if I’m trying to get out,

not out of this world, mind you,

but, out of my body.

I’ve always known that there was something precious inside me –

inside all of us –

but for years, I hid it away like a dirty secret

under all these layers of my own making

and now that I’m trying to strip away those layers

and tear down those walls,

that sparkling and buoyant Being is expanding inside of me.

It wants to grow larger than humanly possible.

It wants to bend reality and challenge the limits of my imagination.

It wants to break free,

as if this combination of body and mind is some kind of prison,

but it’s not.

At least, it doesn’t have to be.

It’s only a prison if I allow it to be one.

It’s meant to be a vessel that I borrowed for a short time

which will help me experience what it’s like to be human,

to experience pain and pleasure and everything in between

the way only a human can.

But this growing Being inside of me

isn’t quite content with this arrangement.

It wants to be free.

Of what, I’m not sure.

How can I be both a human of this world,

and a Being far harder to describe, from some other world,

at the same time?

One foot here and one foot there.

How can I be in two different places at once,

two different beings in one?

Please help me

to be both human and spirit at the same time,

to find the balance to float freely between worlds,

as seamlessly as the wind blowing in and out of my window.

Please help me to unanchor myself from my limited understanding of the world,

and to be okay with it.

I long for the truth,

but I don’t need to know it all,

at least not yet.

Please help me let my Being evolve as much as it can,

even if that means it grows larger than the confines of my body,

as enormous as the Earth itself,

as inexhaustible as the universe.

Who says I can only be a human who exists inside the universe?

Why can’t I be something greater?

Something shiny yet invisible, full yet free, everywhere and nowhere at once, 

with the universe inside of me?