On stories – and on being human

Rumi's attributed photo

Image of Rumi,  via Zemanta, from Wikipedia

For the last three days, I have written about soldiers and stories – and surely – soldiers come by stories through the everyday living of their lives just like we all do.  We heard about my grandfathers, my uncle and my Dad – then we heard about my dear M. and his time with the Turkish military and then a bit about my students who are either current soldiers or veterans.  All of these soliders have taught me more than a thing or two about storytelling.  Hacivad Bey is nodding his head to this, and I am wondering what Sufis, those seekers of love, think about warfare and soldiers…and I have no answer to the question, but I do see that Rumi weighs in on the impact of being human – and that many writers have linked these comments to writing.  So, to continue the theme of stories this week here on slowly-by-slowly, I want to share a bit of Rumi’s writing that brings some explanation to the idea I had for blogging on a daily – or almost daily – basis.

While I started the blog as a way to enforce daily writing (and re-writing) of my memoir on my road trip through cross-cultural relationship replete with the Karagöz shadow puppets, it has also become a way to reflect upon and learn from the everyday back and forth of my life in a Turkish-American relationship.  When I came across this bit of Rumi’s writing, well, it all made sense.    I hope you will enjoy it.

“This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.

A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.

Welcome and entertain them all
even if they’re a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture.

Still treat each guest honourably,
he may be clearing you out
for some new delight.

The dark thought, the shame, the malice,
meet them at the door laughing,
and invite them in.

Be grateful for whoever comes,
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.”


Note:  This blog documents the ongoing road trip through the cross-cultural marriage of one American woman married to one Turkish man.

Part of acculturating to her cross-cultural marriage included getting in touch with the metaphorical Karagöz shadow puppets that took residence in the back seat of her head.

Depending on the situation these puppets take on the roles of the yea-sayer, the naysayer, the devil, the angel, the manners expert, the feminist, the religious person and many more.

Karagöz Oyunları , or the particularly Turkish art form of shadow puppetry, is famous for heightening stereotypes and truths about the nature of people, places and things in the way that only puppets can. Emanating from the city of Bursa, the first capital of the Ottoman Empire circa 1326, Karagöz puppets have delighted children and adults alike for centuries. Said to be a tribute to Karagöz and Hacivad, two spirited men that loved to co-recite stories to their co-workers while taking breaks from the construction of Bursa’s stunning Ulu Cami (Ulu Mosque, see below, or), the puppets are the living memory of those men who were executed for slowing the process of the mosque’s construction.

What better country to use as the foil for a discussion on cross-cultural relationships than Turkey. As Turkey has taken the world stage in recent years, metaphors divining from its co-location in geographic east and west, Europe and Asia are abundant. Primed to be a model for future nations that want to balance democracy and Islam, it is the perfect setting for one couples own road trips through Turkey – road trips whose subtext is their quest for the marriage model that fits them – their own merger of east and west.

In addition to being the American half of a Turkish-American cross-cultural marriage prone to road tripping through Turkey, the author is a professor in the United States, where she teaches research methods, statistics, and policy analysis courses. For more information about Liz Cameron, and excerpts of her personal writing, see http://elizcameron.wordpress.com/

Please note that Liz Cameron is a nom-de-plume (pseudonym) – but all of the above is true!

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16 Responses to On stories – and on being human

  1. jolly joker says:

    either appear as you are, or as you seem…

    i saw many people, no clothes on
    i saw nice dresses, not in the man…

    those two, are my favorite quotes from rumi

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