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Long time back, I met a person who had published a collection of his poetry; regular, romantic kind. The gentleman himself was on the other side of middle-age, sported a long beard and was a religious person. I was young and brash (and stupid) and asked him why he was writing poetry because he did not even look like a poet. He calmly replied that first the person had to be good; only then he would be able to do good things, be it poetry or else. I had no reply to that.
Today, we use the term ‘holistic’ in many situations. We say that the hiring process should be holistic, we say professional development should be holistic, we say management should be holistic.
Holistic comes from ‘Holism’ which signifies that the sum is more than the total of individual components. It has therefore two meanings: one, that all dimensions and components will be taken in; two, the components will be arranged in a way so that the final product is superior to individual components. Wholeness and Superiority may be considered key words in this concept.
Integral to being holistic is our view and handling of our own selves. How do we treat ourselves; how do we assess ourselves, and how we develop ourselves. Unfortunately, majority of people have unclear, blurred, biased, even distorted view of their self. For example, all these bigwigs in bureaucracy and politics who make a certain appearance to impress others have a distorted view of their self. Big moustaches curving up at the ends which are oiled regularly, big beards, big turbans, a big ring on every or most fingers etc. are indications of a bloated view of own self, above and away from the ordinary. Distorted views also bring intense self-love, a condition where self-development ceases altogether. This is a big social, psychological issue which may be left to concerned experts for discourse. We return to our self.
Do we care about our own self? If we ask this question to anyone, she/he would look at us as if we were very ignorant, and reply, ‘of course I do’. Great. How do we care about own self? Do we nurture it? Do we develop it? Do we groom it? Do we give time to it? Do we save it from bad influences? Do we secure it from negativity? Do we keep it happy? Do we pamper it sometimes? Do we celebrate it? Do we love it?
I am presenting you a poem on self-love by Nobel Prize winner, Caribbean poet and playwright, Derek Walcott, who lived from 1930 to 2017. He was an extraordinarily gifted writer who could see those dimensions who we, the ordinary people, do not see.
LOVE AFTER LOVE
by Derek Walcott
The time will come
when, with elation,
you will greet yourself arriving
at your own door, in your own mirror,
and each will smile at the other’s welcome,
and say, sit here. Eat.
You will love again the stranger who was your self.
Give wine. Give bread. Give back your heart
to itself, to the stranger who has loved you
all your life, whom you ignored
for another, who knows you by heart.
Take down the love letters from the bookshelf,
the photographs, the desperate notes,
peel your own image from the mirror.
Sit. Feast on your life.
We were asked to write ‘Tashreeh’ (explanation/ interpretation) in our school days for the Urdu verses which were included in our syllabus. Our text always started by saying, ‘Poet says’ and then we would blabber whatever came to our mind, no matter if it had any relation to the poet’s mind. We shall not do so with this poem.
The poem by Derek Walcott is so beautiful, it must be read several times to get its full effect. Imagine the long time since we had been ignoring our self; the mistreatments we unleashed on our self, the unhealthy habits we carried in mind and body, and the criminal negligence of not caring for it. It is the norm, not exception, and it keeps happening all through life.
It is time to look at us again, make peace with our self, become friends, and work together to become holistic.
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