Tara Dhaliwal; Rumi Assignment

Rumi Assignment

BIRDWINGS

Your grief for what you’ve lost lifts a mirror
up to where you’re bravely working.

Expecting the worst, you look, and instead,
here’s the joyful face you’ve been wanting to see.

Your hand opens and closes and opens and closes,
If it were always a fist or always stretched open,
you would be paralyzed.

Your deepest presence is in every small contracting and expanding,
the two as beautifully balanced and coordinated
as birdwings.

I decided to take this picture because the first thing I was reminded of upon reading the poem is the concept of ying and yang; the constant energy that requires opposing sides to balance each other out. Some examples of ying and yang include the male and the female, dark and light, cold and hot, passive and active, etc. Similarly, in the poem, there is a juxtaposition of opposing themes such as ‘the hand that opens and closes’, ‘expecting the worst and seeing a joyful face,’ ‘fist or stretched open.’ Rumi goes on to describe these as “beautifully balanced and coordinated,” and in that lies the essential principal of the ying and yang. The picture that I took is very simple and shows the stark contrast of the two sides of my face. I left one in darkness as it allows for basic symbolic reference of the ying and the yang and also because it exemplifies a lot of the basic ideas in the poem. In the first line Rumi speaks of a mirror and a camera works similarly to a mirror and hence reflects my face as the beholder in the poem. Rumi concludes that each side is essential for fullness and the balance in the end, and I decided to apply that in human terms with regards to my face as each side is required to complete my face and yet I wanted to show only one side to depict the meaning that I gleaned behind Rumi’s poem. Rumi also refers to a face in his poem and that sparked my idea of depicting my own face. Rumi also talks about the essence of his idea when he speaks of “if it were always a fist or always stretched open, you would be paralyzed,” in that the two opposing actions are required for normal human function and if one were stuck in either one of the two, they would be “paralyzed.”

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