I sip my morning tea and nibble on fried bread at a place around the corner from my new guesthouse (hotels are at full-capacity around Yangon, so I have been forced to relocate a few times during my three-week stint here). Thoughts about today’s meetings with entrepreneurs and unfinished financial models cloud my consciousness. Back in DC, I would be grinding beans and preparing a french press of coffee for my wife and I – but the same stream of thoughts would likely emerge.
I am back in the present and silently recite a line from my favorite poem: All that you are experiencing now / Will become moods of future joys.
A young monk with a freshly shaven head strolls to my table, takes a gander, and continues on his way. A rickety old bus stops abruptly at the adjacent corner; the attendant screams “Sule Paya! Sule Paya!” and passengers rush to hop on as the bus begins to idle. A young man attaches today’s newspaper to the end of a rope hanging from an apartment balcony high above.
To an English Friend in Africa
by Ben Okri (from An African Elegy)
Be grateful for freedom
To see other dreams.
Bless your loneliness as much as you drank
Of your former companionships.
All that you are experiencing now
Will become moods of future joys
So bless it all.
Do not think your ways superior
Do not venture to judge.
But see things with fresh and open eyes.
Do not condemn,
But praise what you can,
And when you can’t, be silent.
Time is now a gift for you,
A gift of freedom
To think and remember and understand
The ever perplexing past,
And to re-create yourself anew
In order to transform time.
Live while you are alive.
Learn the ways of silence and wisdom
Learn to act, learn a new speech.
Learn to be what you are in the seed of your spirit.
Learn to free yourself
From all things that have molded you
And which limit your secret and undiscovered road.
Remember that all things which happen
To you are raw materials,
Endlessly yielding of thoughts that could change
Your life and go on doing forever.
Never forget to pray and be thankful
For all the things good or bad on the rich road;
For everything is changeable
So long as you live while you are alive.
Fear not, but be full of light and love.
Fear not, but be alert and receptive.
Fear not, but act decisively when you should.
Fear not, but know when to stop.
Fear not, for you are loved by me.
Fear not, for death is not the real terror,
Be joyful in your silence,
Be strong in your patience,
Do not try to wrestle with the universe,
But be sometimes like water or air,
Sometimes like fire,
And constant like the earth.
Live slowly, think slowly, for time is a mystery.
Never forget that love
Requires that you be
The greatest person you are capable of being,
Self-regenerating and strong and gentle
Your own hero and star.
Love demands the best in us,
To always and in time overcome the worst
And lowest in our souls.
Love the world wisely.
It is love alone that is the greatest weapon
And the deepest and hardest secret.
So fear not, my friend.
The darkness is gentler than you think.
Be grateful for the manifold
Dreams of creation
And the many ways of unnumbered peoples.
Be grateful for life as you live it.
And may a wonderful light
Always guide you on the unfolding road.
~ by responsiblenomad on February 28, 2013.