Monday, May 26, 2014


“The breeze at dawn has secrets to tell you.
Don’t go back to sleep.
You must ask for what you really want.
Don’t go back to sleep.
People are going back and forth across the doorsill
where the two worlds touch.
The door is round and open.
Don’t go back to sleep.” - Rumi

    Short and to the point. That is what Rumi’s, Don’t Go Back to Sleep is. Metaphors make up a large portion of this eight line poem, and three of the lines simply repeat the same line over and over again. “Don’t go back to sleep” could refer to many things, even it meaning just that, “don’t go back to sleep”, could be a possibility. When you first read the poem, you think that perhaps it is only about dreams. My mother thought that it was about nightmares plaguing the dreams of the one being told not to sleep at first, but bother her and my ideas soon changed as we thought more about the words and how they were used.

    When first confronted with this poem, I had numerous thoughts. At first, I thought that the narrator was telling a specific person to not give up. Perhaps someone they knew had believed that the world would be better off without them, and wanted to kill him/herself. Then, after I had let my mother read it, she told me what she thought, and that made me start thinking. What if it’s about the entire populace of a country? Even the world? A very interesting line in the poem is, “People are going back and forth across the doorsill where the two worlds touch.”(Rumi 5-6). This line makes it sound as though people are going between two worlds, but that is the literal translation. I believe two worlds refers to a world of light and a world of dark; the dreaming and reality. Lots of people nowadays will go about their everyday lives without thinking of anything but what they have to get done to get food on the table. They just accept anything told to them by their superiors blindly. No revolutions, no questions, just blind acceptance. The poem is trying to tell people to not go into that mindless, sleeping, state, to rebel, to question.

    People tend to never truly know what they really want. Due to that, people will just go with the flow, and won’t ever be truly happy. “You must ask for what you really want”(Rumi 3). This line in the poem tells readers to not be afraid to ask for what they want. If someone wanted bread, they should ask for bread, not anything else. The third line in the poem brings to light how settling for second best or lower isn’t going to help you or make you really happy. “The breeze at dawn has secrets to tell you”(Rumi 1). The breeze could well be Rumi. The author wants to give the reader information, and comes into the poem to tell the reader that fact. Knowledge is power, and Rumi wants to give that to the readers. Knowledge can give you the power of choice, and once the people begin choosing different things from what their leaders are saying, they’ll start questioning bigger things, and get out of their little worlds of work, work, work.

    This poem seems to refer to the entire world’s populace, and tells them to come back to Earth. You can’t have a bunch of mindless zombies walking around, following their leaders blindly. The world is almost like a hivemind, destroy the leader of a group, and the rest become confused. People need to become their own leaders and make their own decisions, the human race will not be able to continue evolving if they do not. “The door is round and open, don’t go back to sleep”(Rumi 7-8). The door being round represents the Earth, and it’s round shape, and also gives an inviting feeling to the reader. A round shape is not threatening like a cube, or a pyramid. There are no corners to hurt yourself on, nowhere for bad things to hide, it’s like a big round panic room. He uses the round door to bring the readers closer, and bring them to free thinking. Without freedom of thought, a nation cannot fully develop. There would be little to no patriotism, only fear.

    We must think for ourselves, and this poem is only one way to know that. People like to go into their own little worlds and offer little to no resistance. They must reach into the dark and face their fears, ultimately accepting the responsibility of their own minds. This poem was true in the 13th century, and it is ultimately true to this day. How is the world going to grow when people accept things without even checking their resources first? Humans are capable of so many things, and the start of that is believing in them and letting them think for themselves. 

Monday, May 19, 2014

Cats and Dreams

I sit on the couch across from my mother as she takes a seat on her favorite green mushroom stool, setting up my IPod to record and handing her a copy of, "Don't Go Back to Sleep" by Rumi.
"You can make comments on it while you read, you know." I say, a bit nervous with how this will all end up, with her being so quiet. The woman merely nods in response and keeps reading the poem, soon setting it down and looking at me expectantly.

"What did you think?" I ask, still unsure on what to really ask.

"Looks like it's about dreams." My mom replies quietly, folding her hands in her lap.

"So.. Uhm..." I hesitate, trying to think of a question, "What do you... Like.. about it?"
River, our rather large cat walks over and meows for attention, beginning to pace around the couch I'm sitting on as she contemplates jumping up. I can't help but say her name and scratch her ears softly, causing the calico manatee to purr happily.

My mother smiles at the cat and thinks a moment, "... I especially like the line, 'People are going back and forth across the doorsill where the two worlds touch.'" 

"Yeah, I like that one too, it's cool" I say, "River! Make up your mind, cat." I tell the fat cat, who doesn't make up her mind and keeps looking at me.

"It's very simple but it says everything it needs to say." Her voice gets quieter, if that is humanly possible and I nod, "Even though it says the same little phrase three times, it's not tedious or anything. It keeps it... It's more avocative."

I nod once more before I reply, River beginning to meow more often, "It reminds you of the theme of the poem, and- River!" I stop, looking at the cat as if to will her into not meowing, "Okay, um. Hm."

"Did I mess it up?" My mom smiles and laughs at my pause, her eyes just barely crinkling at the edges.

"No, I'm trying to think of something to ask." I say, still perplexed, "Ah... Anything that you could think of from... What you pulled of from, like, the meaning? What you possibly think could.. Be going down? River!" I add in surprise, as the cat in question jumps up next to me and almost crushes my IPod. 

"It seems like it would have something more to it than just dreams, it also seems like it could be, uh... People being asleep in their daily life, and not being aware. Like going back to sleep is... It's becoming unaware again, like you found something out and if you deny it and don't say anything about it, then you're going back to sleep." She says, looking fondly at the fluff ball that is the cat.

"Mmhm," I make a sound of agreement, "yeah, I can see that. Do you think the door being round and open has anything, like, any deeper-"
"It sounds like the world to me." My mom shifts in her seat.

"And, people going back and forth across the doorsill could be people going between the dreaming world and the real world? Beginning to get out of touch with reality?" I ask, once more moving the IPod away from the cat before she steps on it.

"Or they're just.. Lost, in their everyday life and are unable to see past the end of their own nose, and just can't be empathetic towards other people." She then smiles apologetically, "I'm afraid that's really all I can give you, I need to go get your brother up from his nap."

"No, you were fine, thank you!" I say, grinning until a fat cat walks on my legs, "Ow, River!"

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

جلال‌الدین محمد رومی

Rumi was many things in his lifetime, a poet, jurist, theologian, and even a Sufi mystic. His full name was Jalāl ad-Dīn Muhammad Rūmī (Persian: جلال‌الدین محمد رومی) , and he was  13-century Persian. Rumi was born around September 30th, 1207 and thought to have died on December 17th, 1273. In 1225, Rumi married his spouse, Gowhar Khatun and together they had two sons, Sultan Walad and Ala-eddin Chalabi. After his wife died, he remarried and had a son and a daughter, Amir Alim Chalabi and Malakeh Khatun. His works were all originally written in Persian, but many translations have been made worldwide. Rumi's most popular works are the Diwan-e Shams-e Tabrizi and Mathnawi, both books filled to the brim with poems.
His poem, Don't Go Back to Sleep, first comes of as a little short and strange. It tells the reader to not go to sleep a total of three times before the poem ends. At first, one might assume it has to do with nightmares, but it might also allude to people living in the dreaming world. The poem tells the readers not to become one with a crowd, and feels as though there is an underlying tone telling them to question society, to question their superiors. Nobody wants to become a faceless background character, and if they keep assuming everything is alright and never question anything, they will become one. 
Works Cited:

Monday, May 12, 2014


There is a large amount of spiritual and/or personal growth found in all sorts of literature. From Harry Potter to Lord of the Flies, characters find themselves in predicaments that cause them to change as a person. Siddhartha, by Hermann Hesse is no exception. Like a tree, the main character, Siddhartha goes through multiple changes throughout his journey. He attempts to find peace and become enlightened in the book, going through many teachers. As Siddhartha learns different lessons, he changes as a person. His personality, ideals, and body itself all change fluidly throughout the book. The main character of the book, Siddhartha, also known as Siddhartha, changes through the book in mind, body, and soul.

Siddartha begins his journey as a bit of a spoiled brat. He picks up on things easily, learns quickly, and always gets what he wants. In fact, in the second chapter, when he meets Siddhartha Gautama, or, the Buddha, he feels no need to hear the doctrine of the Buddha because he believes he has already learned enough. “He felt no great curiosity to hear this doctrine. He did not think it would teach him anything new”(Hesse 25). He doesn’t believe he can learn anything new from Gautama and scoffs at the idea of having another teacher. Siddhartha’s friend, Govinda, however, goes along with the Buddha and decides to follow him. The Buddha even warns Siddhartha of his “cleverness” and alludes to how it could wind up being his downfall. “‘You are clever, O Samana,’ said the Venerable One. ‘You speak cleverly, my friend. Be on your guard against too much cleverness!’”(Hesse 31). Yet this is only the start of Siddhartha’s journey, and no matter how much he dislikes it, he still has much to learn.

Eventually, the young samana leaves and continues on his journey, this time to look for a different type of enlightenment. After he leaves the samanas, he begins to feel different and feels as though he has become a man. “He realized that something had left him, the way a snake’s old skin leaves it.”(Hesse 33). Siddhartha has already begun changing in his own way, he has grown as a person and his body is now different, covered in hair and much thinner than when he had started his journey. Siddhartha begins to show major spiritual changes soon after and can connect simple things to the spiritual meaning of it. “no longer the veil of Maya, no longer the meaningless random multiplicity of the world of appearances, contemptible to any deep thinker among Brahmins, any thinker who scoffed at multiplicity and sought oneness. Blue was blue, river was river, and even if the One, the Divine lay hidden in the blue and the river within Siddhartha, it was still the nature and intention of the Divine to be yellow here, blue here, sky over there, forest there, and here Siddhartha.”(Hesse 35). Siddhartha has begun to realize the true simpleness of the world and that is a rather big change from how he was acting in the beginning, how he thought enlightenment would be more difficult and confusing.

Soon after he has changed in these ways, he begins actively searching for a teacher. He goes back to the ferryman he had met on the way to a city and asks him to teach him. “‘Oh’ - Siddhartha sighed-’what I would like best would be to not continue on at all. What I would like best, ferryman, is if you were to give me an old loincloth to wear and keep me on as your assistant, or rather your apprentice, for I would first have to learn how to handle the boat’”(Hesse 87). He actually wishes to be taught by someone, and before he had been gung ho against even the idea of having to be taught by someone else. Siddhartha’s true change shows when he explains how he is different now. “‘It is,’ Siddhartha said. ‘And once I learned this I considered my life, and it too was a river, and the boy Siddhartha was separated from the man Siddhartha and the graybeard Siddhartha only by shadows, not by real things. Siddhartha’s previous lives were also not the past, and his death and his return to Brahman not the future. Nothing was, nothing will be; everything is, everything has being and presence.’”(Hesse 90). Siddhartha seems to have fully reached enlightenment, and is happy with how he turned out.

Changes can occur in many ways, the most commonly thought of way is in body. How a person changes on the outside. Yet a person does not truly change unless it is on the inside.

Friday, May 9, 2014

Rumi: Don't Go Back To Sleep

The breeze at dawn has secrets to tell you.
Don’t go back to sleep.
You must ask for what you really want.
Don’t go back to sleep.
People are going back and forth across the doorsill
where the two worlds touch.
The door is round and open.
Don’t go back to sleep.

Rumi, Iran, 1207-1273

Thursday, April 3, 2014

♬ Ch-ch-ch-changes! Turn and Face the Strange! Ch-ch-changes! ♬♩♪

Kafka's The Metamorphosis goes over a multitude of changes, like the title itself. The first notable change that occurs in the story is found within the very first paragraph. The main character, Gregor Samsa, has turned into a monstrous bug. "He discovered that in bed he had been changed into a monstrous verminous bug."(Kafka 3). Now, Gregor only thinks he was a bug in a dream he had, he doesn't actually fully realize the predicament he is in. This is basically how the entire first part goes, Gregor running around, under the impression that he's just a bit sick and late for work. In the second part of The Metamorphosis, Gregor has been forcefully pushed by his father and is now sporting a large scar down his side. He realizes that his sister has left out a bowl of milk, his favorite drink, for him to drink. "For there stood a bowl filled with sweetened milk, in which swam tiny pieces of white bread."(Kafka 27). He is overjoyed to find the milk, and immediately runs over to enjoy it. Yet, after Gregor has sampled the usually wonderful mixture, he realizes it no longer tastes as good to him. "Because the milk, which otherwise was his favorite drink and which his sister had certainly placed there for that rea- son, did not appeal to him at all."(Kafka 28). He must have lost all sense of taste or something similar, because his love for the milk mixture has disappeared almost completely. Change is doing all it can to affect Gregor's life, and it's not all that good.

Change isn't only messing with Gregor, during the entire time Gregor is a bug, Gregor's father, Mr. Samsa, isn't treating Gregor like family. It is kind of understandable, but Gregor doesn't really pay much mind to it. "Then his father gave him one really strong liberating push from behind, and he scurried, bleed- ing severely, far into the interior of his room. The door was slammed shut with the cane, and finally it was quiet."(Kafka 26). Mr. Samsa hit the buggified version of his son with his cane, causing Gregor to scurry away, bleeding. Mr. Samsa just gets worse and worse, becoming the epitome of cruelty throughout the whole rest of the book. At one point, after Mr. Samsa has come home and seen Gregor on the wall, he throws an apple at him, causing it to get lodged in his back and make Gregor fall to the ground in pain. "However another thrown immediately after that one drove into Gregor’s back really hard."(Kafka 51-52). Mr. Samsa basically just attempted to kill his son, and Gregor is left in excruciating pain for quite a while. This apple that he had thrown eventually causes Gregor's death, and the family is left without him. "Becoming weaker and weaker and would finally go away completely. The rotten apple in his back and the inflamed surrounding area, entirely covered with white dust, he hardly noticed."(Kafka 71). Gregor thinks about how his problem has affected his entire family, and lets his body give up, ultimately killing him.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Kafka, There and Back Again

Franz Kafka was born on July 3, 1883 in Prague, Czech Republic. His family was middle class, spoke german, and was Jewish. Kafka had three younger sisters and two younger brothers who died in their infant years. Kafka learned German as his first language, but eventually also became relatively fluent in Czech.

Kafka went on to go to the Charles University of Prague, where he started studying chemistry but two weeks later switched to law. After the first year, he met Max Brod and Felix Weltsch, who became two of his closest friends. Kafka later graduated from the university and got his Doctorate on June 18, 1907.