الا یا ایها الساقی ادر کاسا و ناولها
که عشق آسان نمود اول ولی افتاد مشکلها
O Saki pass around the goblet
For love seemed easy at first, but it fell into difficulties
The first line of Iranian poet’s collection of poems – Dewan-e-Hafez is interestingly written in Arabic instead of Farsi. Hafez Shirazi is to Iranian literature what Shakespear is to English literature; perhaps even more. Because Iranians not only recite his poems on daily basis but they also use his Dewan for guidance. People seeking guidance put the book in front of them, silently pray and ask Hafez to show the answer to their question. Then they open the Dewan and believe that the very first line of the verse they see is supposed to give answer to their question. His tomb is in present day Shiraz and close to Pehlawai University, near Haftand.
I have tried to translate the verse in English but I couldn’t capture the essence, for Iranian poetry, like Urdu poetry is entrenched and riddled with cultural nuances that can never be translated into another language, especially English. One has to know the culture in order to appreciate it. Saki is a wine bearer but in poetic tradition, of Iran, Pakistan and of Indian Muslims, it’s a beautiful female the poet may be sharing his private time with.
Anyhow I chose this stanza because to me the second line is an analogy of writing and life. When we start writing we fall in love and see stars everywhere. When we raise our head up from our notebook even the air seems fresher and the golden sunshine has an unusual glow that we don’t notice otherwise. We are in love and whatever we write seems perfect. We feel on top of the world and everything seems possible. We cannot ask for more. But when it comes to editing, pitching and reading rejection letters is when we lament that writing is so difficult. Because we feel pain and broken heart.
Same thing happens with life. As children we think it’s so important and exciting to grow up quickly because all the difficulties and the control of adults will fade away. We think as grownups we will have so much freedom to do whatever we want to. Little do we know!
Seriousness of grownups seems futile to us as children. We think that once we grow up we will be different. We think we will not do what the grownups are doing. We are sure that we will be filled with zest of life and we will show everyone how easy it is to conquer the world, how easy it is to find love, love of our life and live happily ever after and enjoy life to the fullest.
But when we grow up we settle down in life. We have expectations, instilled in us since childhood, for others and ourselves. After a while we realize that “live happily ever after” was a myth when others don’t fulfill our expectations or our heart is broken. We feel a void even when we have achieved what we were supposed to. Heartache starts and the love and the zest for life is gone.
It’s important to keep plugging in even when that zest for writing or for life is gone. Living in the present moment and writing will carry us through those times when we think our love of writing and life has fallen in difficulties. Keep plodding, one step at a time, one word at a time.
What do you do when your love of writing or life dwindles or “falls into difficulties”, as Hafez said?
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