Every New Year, we take (or try to take) the time to come up with resolutions that will hopefully be kept for the month of January at least. Every New Year gym subscriptions sore only to see its clientele decline in the next 2-3 months. I know so because last year I joined a gym and saw the effects for myself. Not to mention, I stopped going in March consistent with the aforementioned trend. Notwithstanding, I think its important to take the time to ask ourselves where we could use some improvement or what aspects of our life could we change or ameliorate. As I go through this thought process and consider a calorie counting app, I thought I would also take the time to read (and share) some thought-provoking poetry that I found inspiring. The first excerpt is from Yesterday and Today by Khalil Gibran from the The Treasured Writings of Khalil Gibran.
“Yesterday I was like a singing bird, soaring freely here and there in the fields. Today I am a slave to fickle wealth, society’s rules, the city’s customs, and purchased friends, pleasing the people by conforming to the strange and narrow laws of man. I was born free and enjoy the bounty of life, but I find myself like a beast of burden so heavily laden with gold that his back is breaking.
Yesterday I was a happy shepherd looking upon my herd as a merciful king looks with pleasure upon his contented subjects. Today I am a slave standing before my wealth, my wealth which robbed me of the beauty of life I once knew.
At that moment a poor man stood before him and stretched forth his hand for alms. As he looked at the beggar, his lips parted, his eyes brightened with a softness, and his face radiated kindness. It was as if the yesterday he had lamented by the lake had come to greet him.
He entered his palace saying, “Everything in life is good; even gold, for it teaches a lesson. Money is like a stringed instrument; he who does not know how to use it properly will hear only discordant music. Money is like love; it kills slowly and painfully the one who withholds it, and enlivens the other who turns it upon his fellow men.”
I like this poem because it takes us back to the simplicity and beauty of yesterday while revealing the capacity to live life that in that same beauty today by being in tune with those around us. I believe the strength of the poem does not lie solely in sharing wealth but I believe this vision can be extended to knowledge, power, technology, etc. It shows us that we can use our new found wealth of knowledge, technology, information, etc. to brighten up the lives of others and use it for good. It’s not about returning to the simple life but learning how to bring back the joys we once experienced in simplicity. I think this poem shows us what it means to contemplate the meaning of our life and how to improve our lives and those around us.
The second poem I wanted to share is also written by Khalil Gibran and speaks to questioning our actions and the motives behind why we do things.
Seven Reprimands by Khalil Gibran
I reprimand my soul seven times!
The first time: when I attempted to exalt myself by exploiting the weak.
The second time: when I feigned a limp before those who were crippled.
The third time : when, given a choice, I elected the easy rather than the difficult.
The fourth time: when I made a mistake I consoled myself with the mistakes of others.
The fifth time: when I was docile because of fear and then claimed to be strong in patience.
The sixth time: when I held my garments upraised to avoid the mud of Life.
The seventh time: when I stood in hymnal to God and considered the signing a virtue.
I particularly like this poem because it reminds us we can all benefit from identifying areas and aspects of our lives and relationship with others we would like to change. That being said, it takes New Year’s resolution lists to a whole new level.
Happy New Year!