Unfold your myth


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I stumbled upon the profound poetry of Rumi in my teens, among my father’s piles of books on philosophy and Sufism. While I loved everything I read by this popular 13th Century Persian mystic, the one that stood out for me was this:

But don’t be satisfied with stories,
how things have gone with others. Unfold your own myth…

 I had largely abandoned Rumi in my early to mid 20s in the pursuit of getting through college and starting a family, but later came to rediscover him during a quarter life crisis in my late 20s.  Up to that point, I had done everything that society had expected me to do yet I felt the constant, almost daily, sharp pangs of disillusionment. What followed was an intense period of soul searching; of near break downs, followed in turn by days of slow and painful breakthroughs.

‘Unfold your own myth’-This line both haunted me and inspired me.  Amidst much resistance from a few from my inner circle, I went about the business of ‘unfolding my myth’.  What did the future have in store? I had no idea. The need to know had actually ceased to matter.  It was a rough journey but one that resulted in the kind of inner peace that no money can buy. Was it worth it? Most definitely.

I googled Rumi recently and stumbled upon my favorite quote.  However I made a discovery that startled me: what I thought was a stand alone two-line quote was actually a full stanza within a larger poem.

But don’t be satisfied with stories,
how things have gone with others. Unfold your own myth,
without complicated explanation,so everyone will understand the passage,
We* have opened you.

 (From The Essential Rumi, translated by Coleman Barks)

The two line quote was always beautiful but the stanza, in its entirety, makes absolute sense.  I recognized it the same way you recognize the value of your mother’s advice when you become a parent yourself.  Hindsight is the old man whose wisdom echoes long after the words are said and actions are taken.

….without complicated explanation, 

If you are treading on the path led by your inner (and truest) compass, you do not need to defend your decisions.  Those that matter will stand by you no matter what you decide.

so everyone will understand the passage,
We have opened you.

 Ultimately our destinies are governed by God.  Who are we to question His divine grace? At times I am at loss for words that accurately describe my thoughts, and the last two lines are examples of such thoughts.  To me, the closest words I can think of that capture the essence of the poem’s last two lines are from Forrest Gump, perhaps my most favorite philosopher of all:

“Life is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you are going to get”

Here are my humble parting words for today: Go ahead and unfold your own unique myth no matter how absurd it sounds to others. If it makes sense to your inner Rumi, that is all the sense you need. Take ownership of your unique journey; you never know what kinds of delicious chocolates lay ahead.

Additional note:

*The word ‘We’ is used in the Holy Quran to refer to God.  It does not indicate plural; rather it is a linguistic representation of the Most High.

(Photo credit: http://i90.photobucket.com/albums/k252/emperorsdarksister/Dervish/dietrich_rumi.jpg)

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