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  • Writer's pictureCile

Episode One Hundred Thirty One, Cucumbers And Prayers

When I first read this poem, I winced and thought, "Oh God, no! Hafiz! NO! Don't make me go there in a social forum!" The universe does not cater to the faint of heart or to outdated and harmful mores. This book of poems is putting me through my paces in this regard. It suffers none of my discomforting realities as it tends to my wellness.

Some of us are born to step into our boldness and for some, like myself, each small step is a leap. This picture is of my niece, Leslie Barton. She is a stand up comedian. Leslie specializes in blue comedy. Though her range is much broader now she, early on in her career, had a joke that was so off color that it made me wince. Worse, she does variations of this joke ALL THE TIME as she plies her shtick! It is perhaps because she is of my blood that this nasty joke rattled me so but I, to this day, rarely look at a display of cucumbers or see a reference to them without recalling her and this joke. So, here I am.

Full disclosure: I've never read - and still have not read - the entity of this book I'm sharing here, "The Gift". Part of my enthusiasm for reading each poem aloud was letting it stand in time and space with me as I spoke the words. I don't study the poems until after I record them and I record them about a month in advance of their being shared and write the riffs from there. So, I saw the title to this poem long after I began this enterprise of blogcasting and I paled when I read it. Why does this show up here and how does this relate to my experience? Then I studied the poem. In time and in understanding, I now think lovingly and respectfully of Les' boldness and her sometimes unrecognized courage. Also, I laugh at how I set myself up with this Hafiz character and all of this multidimensional timelessness. Poor cukes. Well, she was vegan.

Back to the poem...there are ways of growing spiritually that involve unearthing places where we hide in our shade, ignorance and misunderstandings about what it means to be human. Being blind to reality and calling oneself spiritual or enlightened is a tough lesson because it doesn't take long for the truth of life to chase a person down. These buried bits are where this kind of comedy resides waiting to be unearthed by a revelator like Leslie and those who stand up to say what they are seeing and thinking in their unique way. Unconditional Universal love is as ribald as it is chaste. Religion often cloaks this truth.

There are some really bazaar aspects to being involved in the human condition and when we cherry pick how we imagine ourselves separate from all of this ruddy, rut-happy humanity we are, basically, lying to ourselves for comfort. How we perceive ourselves is really only a small part of the story. We, here in the western world, with our warped foundations firmly ensconced in a puritanical framing of reality, just beg for enlightenment and realignment to allow for a larger and more diverse acceptance of ourselves and others. We laugh when we hear a joke because we are hearing a truth, seeing someone step safely outside of protocol or witness a surprisingly different perspective not thought of before. If it is an inconvenient truth, we can get angry and defensive. Tina Turner who recently passed away is famous for saying

“People think my life has been tough, but I think has been a wonderful journey. The older you get, the more you realize it’s not what happens, but how you deal with it.”

It is all about how we deal with it. In other words, examining our reactions to things is the valuable ore of enlightenment; even if that is a reaction to a joke. Does it bother you? Are you hiding some kind of puritanical ideal of yourself or some kind of prejudice against difference? There is so much to be mined to allow for more room in our hearts to exchange for compassion. Hafiz talks here about the universe getting rough and rowdy and unexpected. He tells how this is also a teaching to be accepted even if we think it counter to our expectations, it is actually treasure.

Thank you for listening.

Here is Leslie doing her thing at the Stir Crazy Comedy Club in Glendale, AZ. Hold on to your cucumber and get up off your knees. Being on your knees can suggest something quite different in this neighborhood.

For another example blue comedy. Here is a pro (Alex Borstein) performing her stand up, Corsets & Clown Suits on Amazon with her parents in the audience watching her pull out all the nasty bits in public. This might give you another sense as to what kind of loving courage walks and talks laughing hysterically teaching among us. Respect.

The original post in this series of poems by Hafiz (including an addendum regarding the authenticity of these poems) can be found here. Also, my thoughts on this series a year into these poems, HERE.

The Gift: Poems by Hafiz and translated by Daniel Ladinsky can be purchased here.


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