Hey friends! First of all, a happy new year 😀 (Until when is it acceptable to wish people a happy new year?) I still have colleagues starting their emails off with their well wishes. So that kind of justifies me writing this kind of blog post while we’re nearly an entire week into the new year. While it was super satisfying that the 1st of January was a Monday, it kind of meant that I felt propelled straight into a work week, and that I didn’t yet manage to take the time to sit down and reflect properly on the previous year and the year ahead. That’s why I’m about to share my weekend plans with you. Now introducing: the Year Compass. A workbook that contains brilliant questions to allow you to reflect on the previous year and help you set goals for the year ahead. Yup, this is my weekend plan.
Have you ever come across such a simple idea that has the power to change your entire life when applied consciously? This is one of those things that don’t cost any effort at all, just a gentle reminder to yourself whenever it occurs, and over time you will notice that those gentle reminders will have turned into habits. Changing your vocabulary has a huge impact on the way your subconscious mind perceives life, and I’m going to show you exactly how!
After my best friend flew back to London, I decided it was time for me to create better morning habits so I can have more productive days. That definitely sounds like I’m about to come up with a list of ’10 things happy people do every morning, and you should too’. I won’t. But I might, later.. You know, once I figure out life 😉
What I love about poetry is that everyone reads it through a different lens according to their life history, personal reality and conditioning. I’ve always been so curious about this particular quote, not just because it is ocean related (hah), but because we tend to hear the opposite a lot more often: “you are only a single drop in the mighty ocean.” An example that illustrates this is the pale blue dot narrative, and more so, the misinterpretations of it. This goes like something along the lines of:
We are super tiny and insignificant compared to the vastness of the universe.
The aggregate of all our joy and suffering occurs on just a spec of dust suspended in a sunbeam.
Therefore: everything is meaningless and nothing matters in the scale of the universe.
These statements sort of defy logic. Would that mean our significance would increase if only we were bigger? And took up more space in the universe? The full version of Carl Sagan’s narrative is actually a lot more existentialistic, meaning that is up to us to assign meaning to this wonderful thing called life. Sagan actually writes that the distant image of our tiny world demonstrates the folly of human conceits perfectly. (In other words, the foolishness of our conflicts and arrogance towards each other, and not life itself as is often misunderstood). He concludes by underlining our responsibility to deal more kindly with one another, and to preserve and cherish this pale blue dot, the only home we’ll ever know. That’s a much more positive message, don’t you think?
“The significance of our lives and our fragile planet is then determined only by our own wisdom and courage. We are the custodians of life’s meaning. We long for a Parent to care for us, to forgive us our errors, to save us from our childish mistakes. But knowledge is preferable to ignorance. Better by far to embrace the hard truth than a reassuring fable. If we crave some cosmic purpose, then let us find ourselves a worthy goal.”
Quotes from the Pinterestosphere
The last sentence above ties in directly with Rumi’s quote, which I never grasped fully until recently. After stumbling upon it again on Instagram, I decided to dive into it for a little bit. (By the way, anyone else an obsessive compulsive Googler? When you need to know, you need to know, am I right?). Perhaps I’m not trying hard enough, but I’m still not sure if this quote is from a longer piece of work, or even something he’s actually written. Because let’s face it, Rumi didn’t write ‘quotes’, he wrote poems. And since they are translated from Persian/Greek/Arabic/Turkish, there is no way that we can be sure it is an accurate translation of the original. The quote you see most often on the Pinterestosphere is the one on the first picture above. I have found a version that is a bit longer:
“You are not a drop in the ocean. You are the entire ocean in a drop. Seek the wisdom that will untie your knot. Seek the path that demands your whole being.”
But first: who is Rumi?
Before we investigate what that means, let’s find out who this Rumi guy was. According to the history books, he was a charming, wealthy nobleman, a genius theologian and a brilliant but sober scholar. The story of how most of his work came into being is fascinating and tragic at the same time. In his late 30s he met a wandering and wild holy man (read: a wise old man, though poor and homeless) who went by the name of Shams. The holy man had been searching for a student to pass his knowledge on to, and so their meeting had transformed Rumi from a rational scholar into an impassioned seeker of truth and love. Through a bizarre chain of events –which you can look up yourself– Shams was murdered by Rumi’s youngest son. This caused him to fall into a deep state of grief, and as a result, he produced nearly 70,000 verses of poetry as a way of coping with it.
Rumi deals with the human condition
What I love most about his work is that it is inclusive. It doesn’t matter whether you are Muslim, Buddhist, Christian or atheist. Rumi deals with the human condition, which will always remain relevant in any culture. Without even reading a single line of poetry, we can already take a lesson from his personal story. The universe seems to have brought together these two opposing characters to remind us to remain open minded towards all human connections. You never know where your next source of inspiration might come from or who might be able to help you grow.
So what does it mean to be the entire ocean in one drop? One interpretation is that you carry your entire world within you: all your experiences, travels and everything you’ve learned from the people you’ve met. It also means that there is a magnificent and powerful source of energy for change and action within you, which -granted- can be hard to believe. Our mind tends to get stuck in the misinterpretation of the pale blue dot narrative. This means that we tend to think of ourselves being so small in the grand scheme of things, and are therefore quick to believe that our actions don’t matter. To compensate, and superficially enlarge our presence to make ourselves feel more important -and thereby less insignificant-, we think that we need outside influences to make us better people. This means that we we obtain awards, degrees and accomplishments for the sole purpose of making other people take us more seriously.
With this self-limiting way of thinking, you are disregarding the value of all your experiences, travels, the people you’ve met: everything that makes you the human you are. Or to summarise that in a cheesy yet relatable way: the things you have learned in the School of Life, which are more valuable than anything that can be taught within four walls. To paraphrase: there is an ocean of possibilities within you, and anything you want to accomplish, you can. You know what they say: if it is important to you, you’ll find a way. If not, you’ll find an excuse. And Rumi will say it again: “Stop acting so small. You are the universe in ecstatic motion.”