Words Remind Us.

Posted: November 30, 2012 in Essays, Writing
Tags: , , , , ,

Candle’s story how can I tell?
Of the broken heart’s living hell?
My sorrow is in how I can find
Another who knows these sorrows well.

Hafiz wrote these lines sometime in the fourteenth century. In four lines, he draws me in and makes me feel empathy for a character who is both heartbroken and seeking love and understanding. I think he does this by, of course, his use of language, but also by first empathizing with mankind. He has seen his place in the greater tapestry of our race and understood. He has boiled down the story of this man’s pain into emotions that, even hundreds of years later, we can easily hold onto and comprehend—because we have felt them. We have known them intimately.

Ever since I was a child I have heard people talk about how much the world has changed. They talk about how evil things are now as opposed to some hazy, distant past of which they or their grandparents were a part. I used to believe this. I had internalized the idea that things are worse now than they were before. Then I began to read. I read about atrocities that history drags behind her like entrails. I read of deep, familial hate that corrupt and boil over. The whole of empires falling for a single woman’s kiss. I read of men who murdered and raped because apparently power appointed this right to them and then of unbelievable acts of love and courage in spite of it all.

Sometimes I have crumbled into my bed and wondered if anyone else felt the way I did. Sometimes I bounded joyously, hands outstretched, and hoped that the peace and contentment I felt was common. Sometimes you feel your struggle is yours alone. But it never is. A million-million men and a million-million women have stooped low to lift the same burdens you and I carry. They have laughed and cried, made inconceivable mistakes and experienced redemption they never believed they deserved. History is not a rise and fall of morality. Morality has rotted on the vine in the same, sick way since Eve sunk her teeth deep. It is sometimes a cautionary tale, or reason to hope. But it is always true to who we are.

Fashions and the way in which we communicate, travel and interact will always be in flux, but the human condition, the heart of a man, will always be able to be summed up in the words of some near-forgotten poet hundreds of years past. That’s the beauty of words. They remind us.


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