A little Rumi wisdom from my pilgrimage to Lake Michigan today. To borrow from another favorite, G. B. Shaw: “This is the true joy of life.” Stay on the focus. Stick to the plan… Some things are the imperative.
The One Thing You Must Do
There is one thing in this world you must never forget to do.
If you forget everything else and not this, there’s nothing to worry about, but if you remember everything else and forget this, then you will have done nothing in your life.
It’s as if a king has sent you to some country to do a task, and you perform a hundred other services, but not the one he sent you to do. So human beings come to this world to do particular work. That work is the purpose, and each is specific to the person.
If you don’t do it, it’s as though a priceless Indian sword were used to slice rotten meat. It’s a golden bowl being used to cook turnips, when one filing from the bowl could buy a hundred suitable pots. It’s like a knife of the finest tempering nailed into a wall to hang things on.
You say, “But look, I’m using it. It’s not lying idle.” Do you hear how ridiculous that sounds? For a penny an iron nail could be bought.
You say, “But I spend my energies on lofty projects. I study philosophy and jurisprudence, logic, astronomy, and medicine.” But consider why you do those things. They are all branches of yourself and your impressiveness.
Remember the deep root of your being, the presence of your lord. Give yourself to the one who already owns your breath and your moments. If you don’t, you’ll be like the person who takes a ceremonial dagger and hammers it into a post for a peg to hold a dipper gourd.
You’ll be wasting valuable keenness and forgetting your dignity and purpose.
Poem by Rumi | Translated by Coleman Barks
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