Wednesday, November 14, 2012


Life has been swinging us up and down lately, in some cases with the noble aim to teach us some of its wise lessons, in other cases I guess just for no other reason than its own fun. 

Why has it been doing so, I don't know. But just take the other day for example. I am not even going to discuss the morning. Maybe only the outlines. Mornings start at 6.30 or 7 am, the kids wake up hungry as two little tigers, Mila screams for different reasons - or for no obvious reason - until she has drunk up three full cups of warm milk, and her tummy has gotten round, warm and contented; Matteo would just sit on the table and eat up whatever I dig out from the fridge for him, boiled eggs, ham, bread, cookies, all but milk. Then dressing up. I am scared even to write about it, let alone do it. But, with just some more screaming, that is done, too. Then we usually are left with 5 minutes to get to the train station (while we need 10), some more screaming (Mila doesn't like us to run, exclusively in the case when we are running to catch the train), and we get our train! In the train I try to fix Mila's hair. You can probably already imagine what does this mean. More screaming, that's right. And so in the end, exhausted but trying to keep our human dignity, we arrive in the kindergarten, where the social life absorbs our offspring. 
And the day starts.
Then, writing a dissertation.
Then, having lunch - that's an up!
But a well-predictable down is coming after lunch - the coffee is probably helping the digesting, but while being busy at that, it doesn't help me not to fall asleep in the library. A very unpleasant experience, in fact, so I take another coffee which actually helps me to the point that I manage to stay awake enough for browsing facebook and checking e-mails.
And then suddenly, in the middle of all that stress and glumness - a gift. A gift for our family, unexpected, undeserved, needed, it doesn't want anything in return - it is simply generous. This definitely makes an up, and makes me wonder how good can be people sometimes, for no other reason but the goodness itself. 

And so goes the life itself. Kids are screaming, kids are laughing. Doubts and hopes go hand in hand through our day. Fighting the tiredness, searching for inspiration. Swept by sudden anger, lifted by a sudden joy. All these and much more are shaken into a kaleidoscope which changes shapes every time that you try to study it closer and to understand why or how it is as it is. The pieces in the kaleidoscope, in different shapes and colors, are not put there by my hand, but it is my hand that shakes it, my eye that looks into its depth, my heart that shrinks to the beauty and the sadness of the infinity I glance in it. 

And it is all beautiful.

* For Poetry Wednesday

To Build a Swing
Hafiz (Persian Poet, XIVth c.)

You carry
All the ingredients
To turn your life into a nightmare-
Don’t mix them!

You have all the genius
To build a swing in your backyard
For God.

That sounds
Like a hell of a lot more fun.
Let’s start laughing, drawing blueprints,
Gathering our talented friends.

I will help you
With my divine lyre and drum.

Will sing a thousand words
You can take into your hands,
Like golden saws,
Sliver hammers,

Polished teakwood,
Strong silk rope.

You carry all the ingredients
To turn your existence into joy,
Mix them, mix

Translated by Daniel Ladinsky


  1. This is an accurate description of family life as I also experience it because it holds together the chaos and difficulty along with the beauty. I love the analogy of the kaleidoscope too-- it's perfect. The mood is constantly shifting depending on lots of variables, including the way we see it.

    A strange coincidence (or, yet again non-coincidence): I was very close to posting this very same Hafiz poem for Poetry Wednesday several years ago, and it lingers as an option in my head as a great choice for another time. I love this particular poem.

    This morning before I was even truly awake, Elsa came up to me and was already angry about something and actually slapped my cheek. Mornings with little kids are true insanity.

    1. I have to admit, on the contrary, that I've just discovered Hafiz... and he's fascinating, one can almost hear the flutes and the tambours starting to sound somewhere by the middle of the poem.

      Kids and mornings. An incredible source of funny stories, isn't it, huh?

  2. I love this poem, too. Thank you for posting.
    It is a comfort to know that most families with little kids have crazy mornings. Sometimes I feel so exhausted from getting the kids ready in the morning, I am ready to go back to bed.

    I love the kaleidoscope analogy and will remind myself of it when a morning is particularly difficult.

    1. I personally wouldn't be able to remind myself anything in a difficult morning. All I have in my head is a ticking clock, and we are always about to be late, I'm afraid I'm not helping the kids much in going smoother through the morning.
      I often think that kids will grow up and mornings, days and weeks will get better, more organized maybe, but they won't be so small and mine any more, they'll be... more theirs :).
      Thanks so much for commenting and liking!