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.

Love Letter to the Beloved

You are always there
even when You’re not,
to hold my hand,
to cradle my heart,
to soothe the sting of our separation.
I long for You
like a child eyeing an ice cream cone
on a sweltering summer’s day,
like my first crush,
all beetroot and tongue-tied,
like the lips of my lover
lingering, tingling,
like a mother holding her child
for the first time,
pleading for his protection.
My longing
is torture,
is ecstasy.
Each time we meet,
Your nur pulls me closer.
Impatient for our union,
this waiting is like a fever,
confusing my mind,
mixing dreams with reality,
coursing through my veins,
creating aches in corners of my heart
I never knew existed.
My Love,
do You feel it, too?
You always exude such grace and composure.
Your smile makes me forget myself.
Oh, to be that smile,
to be that soul.
You make me want to be
everything possible.
You show me warmth and hope,
promises of Paradise.
Your absence
casts a despairing shadow.
I am nothing,
if not Yours.
I want nothing,
if not You.

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.

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.