This Too Shall Pass

There are days when we all need the reminder “This Too Shall Pass”.

Those are the days that I go back and read Theodore Tilton’s The King’s Ring.

I.

Once in Persia reigned a King,
Who upon his signet ring
Graved a maxim true and wise,
Which, if held before his eyes,
Gave him counsel, at a glance,
Fit for every change or chance:
Solemn words, and these are they:
‘Even this shall pass away!’

II.

Trains of camels through the sand
Brought him gems from Samarcand;
Fleets of galleys through the seas
Brought him pearls to rival these.
But he counted little gain
Treasures of the mine or main.
What is wealth? the King would say;
‘Even this shall pass away.’

III.

In the revels of his court,
At the zenith of the sport,
When the palms of all his guests
Burned with clapping at his jests,
He, amid his figs and wine,
Cried, O loving friends of mine!
Pleasure comes, but not to stay:
‘Even this shall pass away.’

IV.

Lady fairest ever seen
Was the bride he crowned his queen.
Pillowed on the marriage-bed,
Whispering to his soul, he said,
Though a bridegroom never pressed
Dearer bosom to his breast,
Mortal flesh must come to clay:
‘Even this shall pass away.’

V.

Fighting on a furious field,
Once a javelin pierced his shield.
Soldiers with a loud lament
Bore him bleeding to his tent.
Groaning from his tortured side,
Pain is hard to bear, he cried,
But with patience day by day,
‘Even this shall pass away.’

VI.

Towering in the public square
Twenty cubits in the air,
Rose his statue carved in stone.
Then the King, disguised, unknown,
Gazing at his sculptured name,
Asked himself,And what is fame?
Fame is but a slow decay:
‘Even this shall pass away.’

VII.

Struck with palsy, sere and old,
Waiting at the Gates of Gold,
Spake he with his dying breath,
Life is done, but what is Death?
Then, in answer to the King,
Fell a sunbeam on his ring,
Showing by a heavenly ray —
Even this shall pass away.

Remember to Forget

“To be able to forget means sanity.”
Jack London, The Star Rover

Have you ever found yourself at a point where you have to remind yourself to forget and let go?

I have had a rough month.  I have to know how to find the calm in the storm. I typically turn to books and poetry to find sanity.

Poet Kannadasan is one of my favorites

The speciality of Kannadasan lies in his simplicity for the choice of words. His words capture the insights and the understanding he had about life. Many a times, it seems to me, that he wrote the poem because he knows me. He knows my exact challenges.

That is exactly how all his fans feel. Isn’t that a great wonder? To connect with somebody through one’s words.

Here is part of the poem transliterated in English:

Irandu Manam Vaendum, Iraivanidam Ketten
Ninaithu Vaada Ondru, Marandu Vaazha Ondru.

Iravum Pagalum Irandanaal, Inbam Thunbam Irandanaal
Uravum Pirivum Irandanaal, Ulam Ondru Pothathey

Here is part of the poem in Tamil with English translation:

இரண்டு மனம் வேண்டும் இறைவனிடம் கேட்பேன்
நினைத்து வாட ஒன்று மறந்து வாழ ஒன்று
இரண்டு மனம் வேண்டும் இறைவனிடம் கேட்பேன்
நினைத்து வாட ஒன்று மறந்து வாழ ஒன்று

I need 2 hearts
I have asked God
One heart to remember and be sad
Another heart to forget and live on
இரவும் பகலும் இரண்டானால்
இன்பம் துன்பம் இரண்டானால்

உறவும் பிரிவும் இரண்டானால்
உள்ளம் ஒன்று போதாதே
If day and night are 2 different things,
If happiness and sadness are 2 different things,
If togetherness and separation are 2 different things,
Then, 1 heart is not enough

Love and Peace.

2 Jasmine Flowers from My Backyard

I had some of the best middle school English teachers. They didn’t just teach me. They imparted love for the language and poetry. I also grew up with a great love for Tamil poetry.

I plucked these 2 fragrant jasmine flowers from the backyard. These flowers remind me of a beautiful poem from Poet Valli.

Here is part of the poem transliterated in English:

Kadavul thandha iru malargal kanmalarndha pon malargal
Onru paavai koondhalilae onru paadhai oaraththilae

Alaiyil midhandha malar kandu adhanmael karunai manam kondu
Thalaiyil iraivan soodikkondaan thaanae adhanai saerththukkondaan
Kuzhalil soodiya oru malarum koayil saerndha oru malarum
Irandum vaazhvil perumai perum idhayam engum amaidhi perum

Here is part of the poem in Tamil with English translation:

கடவுள் தந்த இரு மலர்கள் கண் மலர்ந்த பொண் மலர்கள்
ஒன்று பாவை கூந்தலிலே ஒன்று பாதை ஓரத்திலே
Two precious flowers given by God;
One fortunate enough to adorn a charming girl while other floated by placid water.
அலையில் மிதந்த மலர் கண்டு அதன்மேல் கருனை மனம் கொண்டு
தலையில் இறைவன் சூடிக்கொண்டான் தானே அதனை சேர்த்துக்கொண்டான்
Seeing the plight of the floating flower, the Creator with grace adorned Himself with that.
குழலில் சூடிய ஒரு மலரும் கோயில் சேர்ந்த ஒரு மலரும்
இரண்டும் வாழ்வில் பெருமை பெறும் இதயம் எங்கும் அமைதி பெறும்
Both the flowers get their glory by adorning;
So will the heart get filled with peace (for everyone)

English Translation was provided by my friend Daisy whose love for Tamil exceeds mine by many fold.

Desiderata – Desired Things

Perhaps it was because of the cold weather.
Perhaps it was because of too many “issues” plaguing my mind.
Perhaps because it is almost end of the year and I am reflecting on life with all it beautiful and sad moments.

Dylan (Adi’s piano teacher and a good friend of mine) and I were having a chat yesterday evening and somewhere along way the I said “Dylan, You know me. I am a die hard optimist. I believe the glass is always half full. I believe in goodness. I hate to say this. But, somehow I am beginning to think the good times are behind us. The goodness we saw as we were growing up is all past us. The simple times are gone…..”

Dylan couldn’t wait to cut me off. He probably couldn’t bear to see his optimistic friend in melancholia.

He read Desiderata out to me. “Desiderata” (Latin: “desired things”) is a 1927 prose poem by American writer Max Ehrmann.

Desiderata - Desired Things - Ambal Balakrishnan

As he started reading the poem, I felt this huge lump in my throat. As he continued reading the poem, my spirit soared.

I hope this poem lifts your spirit as much as it did mine.

Read this poem to yourself. Aloud. With passion and energy.
Read the poem to your near and dear ones.

Feel good about yourself and everything that surrounds you.
There is goodness. All around us.
We live in the best of times.
We are meant to be.
We are where we are needed the most.
Life is beautiful. In all its glory.

Thank you Dylan.

Your children are Not Your Children

Thank you to my dear friend Anu Singh for sharing this beautiful poem with me.

On Children
Your children are not your children.
They are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself.
They come through you but not from you,
And though they are with you yet they belong not to you.

You may give them your love but not your thoughts,
For they have their own thoughts.
You may house their bodies but not their souls,
For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow,
which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.
You may strive to be like them,
but seek not to make them like you.
For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.

You are the bows from which your children
as living arrows are sent forth.
The archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite,
and He bends you with His might
that His arrows may go swift and far.
Let our bending in the archer’s hand be for gladness;
For even as He loves the arrow that flies,
so He loves also the bow that is stable.

—- Poem written by Lebanese-born American artist, philosopher and writer Khalil Gibran.