#406: A Glosa for April 3, 2022

My meditation practice lately has been replaced with Arooj Aftab, a Pakistani-American singer writing her songs often by setting the words of 13th century Persian poet, Rumi, to music. She sings in Urdu; I don’t understand a word of it, and yet, 40 minutes or so with her album Vulture Prince is as good as a week of sitting on a cushion. And just knowing that she’s singing the words of Rumi, somehow transcends the lack of translation. Not to mention the fact that her singing is astoundingly beautiful and transportive. So after listening to Aftab’s album all the way through this morning and looking up the suggested assignment today on the Napowrimo website to write a glosa, I immediately reached for my Rumi anthology and found this gem of a quatrain. I won’t bother to tell you what a “glosa” is: it should be, I hope, relatively clear. Here goes.

A Glosa for April 3, 2022

Keep walking, though there’s no place to get to.
Don’t try to see through the distances.
That’s not for human beings. Move within,
but don’t move the way fear makes you move.


I don’t know what I’m doing. Never have.
There have been dreams, of course,
and practices, but mostly, the process
of moving forward, stumbling onward:
count the flowers, smell the blessings,
blunder here and there, sometimes in
stupendous ways, recover, heal thyself.
Miraculously lucky, the danger lies
in settling in too comfortably, so I try to
keep walking, though there’s no place to get to.

Sometimes it’s best to leap, and I can
count the biggest of them on one hand.
I’d like to say that leaping is my modus
operandi, but my history is more replete
with long moments of standing still,
waiting, doing the thing I know, happily,
staying the course, steadying the ship,
sailing through familiar waters, even though,
philosophically, I know the wisdom in this:
Don’t try to see through the distances.

Somebody said the greatest journeys
are internal. I can get behind that. I feel
less dissatisfied with what sometimes seems
like a life lived with a lack of leaping,
caution a constant companion, “risk,” the
name of a board game I haven’t played
since I was a child. To always know what’s
up ahead, to plan too carefully, to shy
away from potentially negative outcomes:
That’s not for human beings. Move within,

in order to move without, within you and
without you, as George Harrison once put it.
I love that song. And I think George, if he
could hear Arooj Aftab, would love her. Another
idea comes to mind, that whole equation:
thought becomes word becomes action.
Okay, this one seems borne out by the facts
of my life, anyway, and suggests the internal
must needs manifest itself in the world, moving:
but don’t move the way fear makes you move.

Published by michaeljarmer

I'm a public high school English teacher, fiction writer, poet, and musician in Portland, Oregon

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