Saturday, February 23, 2013

Golden Advice: The Mystery of Omar Khayyam

Hi folks, this is the last in golden advice series. I've been keeping to the ancient paths this year. I'm trying to stick to thoughts that have stirred me up as a writer. This week I will dip into the poetry of Omar Khayyam. I'm not calling his genius, wisdom, but instead, mystery.  He saw how  unknowable the world is and celebrated it.

Omar was a Persian astronomer, philosopher, mathematician and a poet.  It always astonishes me the kinship I feel with him. A Texas Writer Mom is about as far as you can get from Persian Poet Philosopher, and yet I feel we are as close as friends who can always pick up a conversation even if they have not seen each other in years. How startling it is to open the pages of poems written a thousand years ago and find someone who sees what I see and knows what I know.

I first read Khayyam's Rubaiyat (trans. Edward FitzGerald) back in junior high, and it has stayed with me. The listed stanzas below all come from the Rubaiyat. I'm going to chat about each plays into my writing life.

Some for the glories of this world; and some
Sigh for The Prophet's Paradise to come;
Ah, take the cash and let the credit go,
Nor heed the rumble of a distant drum.

People have a ton of reasons to do what they do.  Many want the fame, the acolades, the money, whatever. Others look to the holy and sigh for the unseen. The next line makes me laugh every time. Take the cash and let the credit go.  This is such a simple, true thought to me.  Don't disparge who you are right now, what you do right now, what you have done up to this moment.  No one may have ever noticed what you have written up to this point, but cling to the cash value of saying something and saying it well. Let go of all those glories and sighs.  Don't march out to that far off drumming but dig into the here and now and live it fully. Live. Write.

Into this Universe, and Why not knowing
Nor Whence, like Water willy-nilly flowing;
And out of it, as Wind along the Waste,
I know not Whither, willy-nilly blowing.

Yes, I'm here. A tiny dot in an expansive place. I don't know why I love stories. Water bubbles up and flows to the sea. Stories bubble up and flow out to myriad minds. There is no way to predict the journey stories will take. They come and flow and go. I feel like shouting, "Go! Go! Go!" Write like that. Write like your stories will reach the ends of the universe.

Yesterday This Day's Madness did prepare;
To-morrow's Silence, Triumph, or Despair:
Drink! for you know not whence you came, nor why:
Drink! for you know not why you go, nor where.

Each time there is another Madness -- murders of the innocent, 9-11, Sandy Hook, the drug war in Mexico, I could list a thousand things for this week -- I remember that yesterday was setting us up for today. What will happen tomorrow is all about yesterday. A storyteller sees what leads to the next thing.

You must practice being aware.  In that awarness, don't freeze up, but drink!  Don't curl up and say it's too hard to unravel, it's too difficult share.  Dig into the whence, the why and the where. Dig into the passion and reveal this mad journey that always leads to silence, triumph, or despair. Be fearless as you create -- line on line, bird by bird, brick by brick -- however you roll.

Revel in the mysteries. I hope you have enjoyed this series and will come back next week!  Seize the day!

Here is the doodle for the week: "Direction".

One last quote to keep in your pocket.

A hair divides what is false and true.  Omar Khayyam


Ruth Schiffmann said...

I love this post, Molly!
I'm jotting down these lines in particular:
"Write like your stories will reach the ends of the universe."
"yesterday was setting us up for today."
"Be fearless as you create."
Thank you for sharing your thoughts and Omar Khayyam's words. I already know I will revisit this post. =)

MollyMom103 said...

Oh, yay! I was hoping this would really resonate with someone. I do always feel the mystery of the Rubaiyat inside me and so wanted to reveal that connection.

Kjersten said...

Really enjoyed this series. Thanks Molly!

SCBWI REP said...

You are welcome, Kjersten. I just love the connections through time. Time them.

Next month I'm going to dig into THEME. Excited about that!