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.  Translation by Coleman Barks.
From A Year With Rumi. San Francisco: Harper San Francisco, 2006.

For me, what Rumi is writing about here is what I refer to as “staying with it”—letting myself feel whatever emotions I’m feeling fully, however negative they might be, and staying present with them rather than trying to avoid them or turn them into something more easily bearable.  That doesn’t mean that I completely surrender myself to them, because I do maintain my perspective, but I try to separate the two: on the more immediate level I can let myself fully experience whatever negative emotions are there, while on the higher level (with better perspective) I’m aware of what I’m allowing myself to experience and why it’s happening and whether or not I should act on it.  And I know that it will pass, because everything does, the good along with the bad.  Sometimes transience works in my favor, and sometimes it doesn’t.  Although nothing lasts forever, everything does have its rightful time and place, and it’s all I can do to strive to live whatever is here with me at any given moment.