Sunday, November 2

Changing palate (1)

In my last posting I made the promise of “changing my palate,” and in this one, I would like to deliver that promise, and announce the commencement of a series of posts under the general title of “Changing palate”

Ask any “expatriate” this question: “how do you bare the pain of being away from your roots?” and be patient to receive these words, “well, since the pain will never go away, you may as well get used to it, if you want to save yourself from a premature death caused by extreme unhappiness”.

It was by pure chance—the beginning of my journey to self-knowledge and finding my own bliss—when I stumbled upon Joseph Campbell’s A Hero with a Thousand Faces, The Power of Myth, and, of course, Follow Your Bliss.
As an “exile” I had a question: “what was I to become now, that I am no longer in my own land, where my roots had spread themselves very deeply and strongly and supported my crown for a very long time?” I needed a guide, for I was absolutely unhappy, and withdrawn.
In learning about myself, I became involved in exploring medieval poetry, for I developed a great appreciation for that genre of poetry which has the make up of an Epic, or a long poem that has many layers of truth-telling in its structure, that is built masterly and poetically around myths, that conveys meanings and messages, that speak wise words to the heart.
Before I became an “expatriate,” I was already familiar with Iranian epic Shahnameh, “The Epic of Kings,” by Hakim Abdol-Ghasem Ferdowsi Toosi (940-1020), whose aim was to create a broad and historical source for Iranians to draw their inspiration from, (Alas, we have yet to look into our own past and learn from it. God forbid, we may learn to be a strong nation!), but it was through Joseph Campbell’s writings that I became aware of the true meaning(s) behind the mythology of my own land, and I was, now, able to interpret my own myth, and withdraw inspiration and seek guidance from it. My heart needed to hear a lot of those stories, for I was in a great need to find the connection to the inner world. From somewhere I had to draw my energy, and the source would have to be within my reach! I knew that I was on the right path, for I had found a man whose teaching guided me to find my own centre. That was the very first crack on the thick shell of my exilic existence. It was to be my salvation, and, indeed, it has become.

Suddenly, I found myself in the realm of the unknown, yet very familiar, and in a language of myth I began exploring my own psychological being. Thus, I began to enjoy reading Epics and medieval poetry. And amazingly the primitive in me, who always identified with the Middle Eastern ancient myths, was now learning to acknowledge the connection between the Indo-European and Indo-Iranic mythologies, and with that came a great sense of relief. I learnt to appreciate the language of Myth, because that language spoke wise words to my heart, and provided a tailored guidance to my need! All of a sudden, even being an “expatriate” made sense to me, even though I had to bare the pain of being “unhappy” at times!

And perhaps, and because of such an encounter, I came to this rather bold conclusion that understanding the mythology of an “exile” requires a certain understanding of that very mythical language which is in close connection with a far past that is part of your present, and appreciating it is like appreciating a splendid Ballet or a memorable Opera. You need to develop an artistic “sense” to understand the language of a Ballet or an Opera in order to enjoy the performance, or otherwise you will not be able to do so. In respect to the mythology of an exilic existence, you either understand your position in the scheme of the story, or you don’t! Sounds strange, doesn’t it?!
Being an “expatriate” taught me to accept the fact that I may be divorced from my roots—to rephrase William Robertson Davies’ expression of an expatriate—but I am no longer away from my “roots,” for they are part of me forever. And this discovery came a bit later, when I encountered Carl Gustav Jung’s words, which assist me, still, in staying on the road to my own bliss, in Canada.

Till next post!


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