What does poetry have to do with personal or professional change?
Sometimes, everything. If you’re not so sure, just spend a few minutes reading this post.
Rumi was born in 1207 in Afghanistan, at the time a part of the Persian empire. His poem The Guest House holds many important lessons for us in life, and in change. Below is the poem, followed by the lessons it calls out for me.
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 crowded with 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.
These are my lessons when I read this today. You may see them, or not. You may see others.
- Don’t be surprised by the surprises; life is full of them.
- Sometimes we may see those things we are facing as positive, sometimes as negative. Each has its purpose.
- “When one door closes, another opens.”
- Sometimes, change demands that we let go of things–“furniture,” “baggage,”–in order for us to move forward.
- Don’t live as a victim of history, but embrace the uncertainty of the future. Live boldly into it.
- Change is hard; big change is harder.
- Both how we think and how we behave are important.
- Things happen that we don’t understand; accept them. We don’t need to understand why they happen to understand the lessons that they have to offer.
- Be graceful and act with integrity, whatever the circumstances we face.
Do these lessons from The Guest House resonate? Are there others that call out to you? Are there other poems that offer you change guidance? Comment below.