Kaleidoscope/The Guest House

I’ve been a Coldplay fan since my undergrad days, and this evening I’ve been listening to their newest album and getting some UX design work done. [It’s interesting that I was struggling with a particularly knotty problem and getting frustrated, but as soon as I put in earphones and started listening, I solved the problem. Heh. Anyway.]

My first favourite song on the album was Adventure of a Lifetime when I listened in December, but now it’s Hymn for the Weekend, followed very closely by Fun. Those are all nice, upbeat songs, but Kaleidoscope caught my attention this evening. It’s pretty much a voice reading some words to a poem by Rumi (a 13th century Persian poet), and a sampling of Barack Obama singing ‘Amazing Grace’ at the end, but today’s listen made me go look for the original poem. Now I want to frame the words and hang on my wall, but which version?

Here’s Coldplay’s version:

Kaleidoscope

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!
Be grateful for whoever comes
Because each has been sent as a guide

I like that it’s short and simple, and it appears to be a more eloquent version of “everything happens for a reason” [but does it? Does it really? I’ve never been one to be grateful for ALL my struggles, because I’m yet to see the point in any of the things I’ve suffered through. If I’m grateful for anything, it’s for the fact that my struggles so far have been relatively mild e.g. I haven’t lost a family member or limb].

And here’s Rumi’s version:

The Guest House

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 a crowd of 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 whatever comes.
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.

Rumi’s original poem goes deeper in the exhortation to accept the good and bad with equal enthusiasm, but as a Nigerian who was brought up pentecostal and has been taught to reject and pray against the possibility of shame and sorrow, I don’t know. I mean, I see the point, and I hope that when I’m faced with unpalatable circumstances, I can carry on gracefully (while frantically praying for relief, because how can I not?) But, based on my upbringing, I somehow feel that if I resolve today to meet any future uninvited guests [of sorrow and shame] at the door with a smile, then I’m inviting them into my life sooner than I’d like.

I’m framing Coldplay’s version then. And countering the arrival of shame and sorrow by telling myself positive things everyday -_-

Today is Carnaval/Mardi Gras/Shrove Tuesday/Laiskiainen, and I miss Terneuzen and the friends I made there. I remember going to a tiny Belgian village one weekend around this period in 2014, for the end of Carnaval. It was SO colorful and fun, and everything. I miss Finland today too, for the sledging.

I made wonderful pancakes earlier this evening and scarfed them along with creamy custard, while watching Along Came A Spider. Pancakes partly to remember my friends and colleagues in Terneuzen [we used to make lots of crepes and sit around watching TV and chatting shit], and partly because Shrove Tuesday is pancake day. I stuffed my face so much, I couldn’t move for like 30 minutes after. Je ne regrette rien.

Still on the topic, what are you giving up for Lent? This year, I’m working on giving up anger, and perhaps this public declaration will serve as an invitation to annoying situations, but I’m hoping that by the end of Easter, I’d be used to dealing with things without getting angry all the time. Here’s to handling things with grace and a smile.

Doei 🙂

Suomi – Day 2

I have to go to school this morning, and I hate the feeling of  near-helplessness that overcomes me as I step out of my room, because I don’t know how to get to school, and even though I know it isn’t far from where I am, there are so many buildings around, so… I find an Indian girl getting her bike, and I ask her if she knows where my school is. Bless her heart, she actually walks me all the way to school. We’re supposed to have a welcome meeting today, but unfortunately I get there over an hour too early and I have to fight sleep while waiting. I don’t have access to the internet yet, because I don’t have a username and password, neither do I have access in my room, because I do not have a LAN cable.

I won’t go into details of the meeting, I’ll just quickly skip to the lunch that comes after. Chinese restaurant, because the school cafeteria hasn’t opened for the year. The food is awesome, to be honest. I hope the cafeteria food wouldn’t completely shatter my euphoria though. For starters, we have some soup, which is really good, then the main course is rice with different platters of sauce – beef, chicken, fish. I have ALL of them, while engaging in a nice discussion with the Finnish people at my table. For dessert (or maybe it was intended to be part of the main meal, I have no idea), we have fried balls of chicken (they look like puff puff or croustillon) and chili sauce. I have to find this restaurant again sometime.

After lunch, we go with our coordinator (I think that’s what she is to us) to open a bank account, since we need one to be able to pay our rent and almost every other thing. The first bank we go to, Nordea, asks us for letters of recommendation from the banks in our home countries. I will not put down my thoughts on this policy, before someone finds me and fines or deports me 😐 We eventually find a nicer bank, with a nicer lady who attends to us, we complete the paperwork and then we are asked to return later to finalize things.

At night, my classmates and I have pancakes (and music, games and drinks) in the kitchen on someone’s floor. Wait, have I mentioned that in this my new apartment, the keys are not normal keys, but those magnetic cards that are used in hotels? This is scary, because if you forget your key inside your room and call the people responsible outside normal work hours, you would have to pay 35 Euros. Just for context, 35 Euros would buy me 2 really nice dresses. Also, this your key can only open the door to your floor, the door to the kitchen on your floor,  and the door to your room. If you want to visit someone on another floor or in another building, you have to call the person to come open up for you. Smh. Oh and the kitchens get closed for the day at 11.00 pm. LOL. One cannot have a hot chocolate night cap in these parts then, is it? On a less funny note, I cannot figure out how to use the cooker in the kitchen. Very weird stuff, and this means I have been surviving on Rice Krispies, McVities biscuits, and muffins. Also, the kitchen setting here is a bit different from what I’m used to: there are all sorts of kitchen utensils and condiments that are just there for people to use (left over by previous tenants, I suppose), and there’s even a mini bar (I think those bottles are empty though, I haven’t checked). This is very disturbing, because it means that people can leave dirty dishes in the sink, which they have already started doing. I almost cannot cook when the kitchen is dirty, but then I wouldn’t want to be washing stuff that I didn’t use either. These people had better fix up, and fast.