Monday, October 22, 2012


"Inside the Great Mystery that is,
we don't really own anything.
What is this competition we feel then,
before we go, one at a time,
through the same gate?"


Many of my deeply felt moments and soul’s discoveries happen in the most unglamorous of times – on the way to the subway in the morning. When the world is still quite, one can see the invisible and hear the unspoken…

I walk to the subway alone, very early in the morning. But I have my morning buddies who are part of my routine, there, on my journey. There is Joe, who opens the hardware store on our block. He smiles at me, says hello and scolds me if I don't have an umbrella when I should. He also always finds the right thing to say, as if he knows what my day might look like, “Take good care today” or “Good luck!” or “Take it easy” or “Be well”. There is a down-the-street neighbor who smokes and coughs loudly. His hellos are intertwined with a whole ensemble of gurgling sounds.  But he seems to be genuinely happy to see me. Once he wasn't there for a few days in a row and when I finally saw him, he said almost apologetically, "Hello! I went to see my kids in Virginia”. And there is a lady in a green hat trying to figure out if things add up on her calculator and shakes her head as I pass by. She doesn't wear her hat anymore... I wonder if she lost it. And she seems sadder than before. And then, there is a tall elderly gentleman with beautiful grey hair, who always walks his very old dog. The man walks slowly. But his legs are long and he makes wide steps. The dog is breathing hard to catch up with him. Even though walking must be hard work, I could swear the dog has a smile on his face. They both do. I can tell that this has been their routine since the beginning of time. The man has a fresh New York Times in his hand . After we pass by each other, the dog and the man stop for a moment and the man kneels down and gives the dog a hug and the dog hugs him back.  I always turn around and look at them for a moment. And I think, how lucky for them to have found each other.

And then one recent morning I suddenly saw the man alone. His long legs were still making big strides, he still had a longish beautiful grey hair, fresh New York Times was in his hand. Everything was exactly the same except the dog wasn’t next to him. We exchanged glances. His eyes said it all. My eyes said, "I am sorry you lost him". And both of us continued walking in opposite directions. And then I turned back, as I did so many times before. And the man slowed down and almost kneeled like he had done so many times before. Then he ran his hand trough his hair and walked on.

You might think, "So what. All of us pass by people and old dogs on the way to some place. Why is this any special, Blog-worthy? Just part of life." And I am thinking – exactly. It’s not special and yet it is special at the same time. I feel that I was a witness to something ordinary and timeless – this man’s moment of realization of temporariness and fragility of it all. It gave me pause and reminded me of the magic and the mystery of everything’s, everyone’s fleetingness. Someone wise once said that the Universe is unfolding exactly as it should, we are just not always aware of the rules.  Maybe life is like a lost and found bureau. It works like the clock.  Some things, some ones are lost and found every second on our big, small planet. There are beginnings, there are endings, and in between, there is life and universe unfolding exactly as it should... and somehow we are all connected in this routine.  We are all one. Sometimes we are fully present and aware, more times we are not.
I never saw the man again. But I know he is just like all of us – living in this space between lost and found. If we ever met again, perhaps I can quote Rumi and we can hope together that he was right when he said “Don’t grieve. Anything you lose comes round in another form.”

Monday, October 1, 2012

There is no bad weather in Nature

My translation of the song called “There is no bad weather in Nature” from the movie “An Office Romance” (Служебный роман) directed by Eldar Rjazanov in 1977
Lyrics by E. Rjazanov
Music by A. Petrov

I watched this movie dozens of times. In fact, we, the movie and I, are from the same generation. It’s about an unlikely romance in a Soviet era office setting. It’s about complicated human relationships. It’s about love, life and betrayal. It’s sad, funny, absurd, inspiring and everything in-between. The song, which encompasses the wisdom of the movie, remains as well known and loved today (maybe even more known and even more loved) as it was nearly 40 years ago.  Why? Because there is something timeless about it; somethign both poetic and nostalgic. Unfortunately, I think, my translation, while may be somewhat accurate, does not do the Russian version justice. But that’s all I’ve got.
There is no bad weather in Nature –
Every kind of weather is a blessing.
Whether it is snowing or raining,
One has to accept with gratitude.

Echoes of bad weather in the soul,
The mark of loneliness in the heart
And the rise of sorrowful sleeplessness
One has to accept with gratitude.
One has to accept with gratitude.
Death of desires, years and calamities,
Day by day the burden is more unbearable.
What the Nature has in store for you,
One has to accept with gratitude.

Changes in ages, sunrises and sunsets,
The good fortune of one’s last love,
Just as the date of your own passing –
One has to accept with gratitude.
One has to accept with gratitude.

There is no bad weather in Nature,
The passage of time is unstoppable.
Autumn of life, just as autumn of a year,
One must bless without grieving.
One must bless without grieving.
One must bless without grieving.

PS - you can hear the song here -