Welcome to the Party Called Life

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Guest House

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 are a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still treat each guest honorably.
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.

-Rumi

I recently discovered this poem and found myself touched by it. It had meaning for me. At first glance I thought it was melancholy, because the imagery evoked by the words (depression, meanness, crowd of sorrows, shame) was dark and heart rending. But when I came back for more, dipped in further, first my toes, then my knees, finally all the way up to my shoulders, I saw that it spoke other words to me.

It spoke of acceptance, for ALL of the guests at this party called life. It urged me to open the doors wide. To embrace the light and shadows. To cease struggling with them or judging them, and in so doing receive the full bounty of life.

What about you? Does this poem speak to you in some way? If so, how? Please share your thoughts!

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15 thoughts on “Welcome to the Party Called Life

  1. Hi. This poem speaks to me as well. Something about having lived a little helps you appreciate what may not superficially/overtly be a positive thing. I’m glad I clicked over from Raptitude.

    • Thanks for clicking over Belinda. Yes, having a lived a little does make a difference, doesn’t it? I just discovered your blog too – love it!

  2. Patti,
    I love it…meet them at the door and welcome them in. I found myself in the car yesterday crying with no real explanation for it. Little did I know I was treating my tears honorable as they slid of my cheeks. I’m sending this on to a friend who is going through a loss. She wants to feel better. Yet until she welcomes her guests she won’t.

    • Hey Tess – That welling of emotion is so powerful. I love what you say about treating your tears as honorable! And thanks for sending this on.

  3. Yes, this is a great poem as it illustrates that we must be grateful for all that we experience, that which we perceive as good and bad for all has divine purpose. Thanks for sharing this wonderful poem.

  4. I share your interpretation. In fact, something I’ve been thinking about posting on – but I’d probably alienate too many readers! – is that it’s possible to be positive in ways that are really very negative because they overlook or gloss over difficult aspects of life and respond to the hardships of others not with compassion but with some set of beliefs that basically blames them for “attracting” awful stuff to themselves through their negative thinking.

    This is being “positive” in a terribly unrealistic as well as negative and judgmental way. Of course there’s such a thing as self-defeating thoughts and we all do well to have insight into them and move beyond them. But to suppose that all human suffering and hardship results from the individual’s own self-defeating thoughts is wildly unrealistic – and complacent. People who believe in this are all going to die too, and that rarely resembles the peaceful scene at the end of a nice movie.

    • Paul, thanks so much for joining the conversation. Sometimes I have trouble with both terms, “positive” and “negative,” because they can imply an either/or approach to life, when life is really a continuum of emotions, thoughts, experiences, images, etc. And often it is the act of going to the dark places that allows us to retrieve our personal riches. Timely, because I’ve just attended a seminar about forest imagery in fairy tales, and it is in that dark scary forest where Hansel and Gretel finally grow up. Had their wicked step mother not forced them into the forest, they likely would have stayed home and starved! So the metaphor is profound: by denying the dark places, refusing to own all of ourselves, we starve ourselves of becoming fully human, and ultimately true happiness and meaning.

      I’ve also seen a fair amount of judgment slinging from those who profess to be positive, as in, “I can’t understand how someone would find it so difficult to be positive.” Not a particularly positive comment when you consider it. So I do hope you write that post!

  5. Hi Patti
    Treat each guest honorably, that means to me too, letting gt of judgment.
    In the book ‘love without end’ it is mentioned that it is in the judgment and qualifying things as good or bad that we err.
    There is still so much misunderstanding and to say you attract everything is not so as we are part of a whole collective and as such we are also copping things that the collective has set in motion. We are no island and we are in this together.
    Jesus also says nothing can be judged a disadvantage or advantage, and yet we do see things through that mirror too. AND then of course practicing this wisdom, I can tell you I am practicing and practicing because I like this all a whole lot better than the old beliefs I am letting go.

    • How well you say it, Wilma. And so much is about the lens we look through. Good, bad, advantage, disadvantage: all these notions seem to float away when we look through the lens of acceptance. That said, however, I think it’s a lifelong process, and certainly something worthy to continue reaching towards. Thanks!

  6. Dear Patty,

    Wow, this is eloquent and beautiful. While I think it is challenging, this practice, I believe it is where the “juice” of life is.

    It is so tempting to pull away, as we would pull our fingers off a hot stove. Yet, moving into the “fire” is what cleanses and purifies us to begin anew.

    To live fully and be completely alive, we must be willing to invite these guests to the dinner table. Could anyone say it better than Rumi?

    I love this. And it is great to find you! I look forward to hearing lots more.

    Warm regards,
    Lauren

    • Hi Lauren – Welcome! So nice of you to pay a visit. I don’t think anyone but Rumi could put it this way. And I love what you say about the fire being that which creates a space to start anew. Thanks much for the comment.

  7. Pingback: Meaning Mondays: A Change In the Air « Why Not Start Now?

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