The first time I read the book “The Unbearable Lightness of Being” I was surprised by translator’s decision about changing the Persian title to “The Weight of Being”. I think “The Unbearable Lightness” is the best way to describe the world. What makes this world unbearable is more than the problems we have, more than difficulties, injustices, or unfairness. It’s the emptiness behind it all that makes it unbearable.

When you’re a child, you don’t really feel this emptiness, and that’s the only time you can just be. Then little by little you start to see it and question it, and this is when you start to grow up. At the beginning, usually when you’re a teenager, you can’t believe what you just begin to learn about life, and it makes you angry. Then you grow up a little more, and you start realizing that it’s real, but you still don’t want to accept it. You make yourself busy with something. If you’re “strong” (and lucky) you find something “meaningful”: school, study, art, work. And if you’re “weak” (or unlucky) that’s probably alcohol, drugs, etc. But it doesn’t stop there, you grow up more, and you still search for a bigger distraction, hopefully a “meaningful” one. This is when you start feeling the need of having a family, children, helping others and charity, connecting to people that you care for, and people that care for you. After all, people are the only real thing you can find… but are they? They are exactly on the same path, but maybe in a different stage. After this, you have two choices. You’re either still hopeful enough to find some meaning, or you’re not. Since the problem is the meaninglessness of this world, you have to look for that meaning out of it. The hopeful people usually find something spiritual, a religion, a spiritual group, or a philosophical way to see the world. The second group experiences the emptiness in a way that they can never escape from it.

Now, this doesn’t mean that everyone’s journey is the same. Some people stay like a child, some stay at the stage of the anger, or pleasure, or connection. But if you still feel the need, if you don’t want to stop, if you try to find a deeper meaning and a meaningful answer, then your only options are the last two choices, or maybe escaping from it all and committing suicide.

The most painful part of it is when you think about it, you know all your sadness, your pain, and your sorrow, doesn’t really mean anything. No matter what you feel, no matter what you do, no matter what you think, it’s been felt and done and thought before. What’s the result? Nothing, absolutely nothing. And it gets even worse when you realize that getting to this nothingness doesn’t really mean anything either; vicious circle. You feel the urge to talk about it, but you know no one understands. Or maybe someone understands, but won’t feel it; maybe even feel, but… so what?! Even if you decide to say something, what do you have to say about it? Khayyam hundreds of years ago has said it all in the most beautiful way, what do you have to add to that?

A while ago, I was reading an interesting article about Rumi and Omar Khayyam, their similarities and their differences. At the end Rumi became a Sufi, but Khayyam couldn’t escape from the emptiness. I’ve always been fascinated by Khayyam, but for the last month and a half, since I read that article, I’ve been just listening to Khayyam in my car, and thinking about it. The fascination became obsession, Khayyam and his poetry – those simple quatrains – became all I could think of during the day. What amazes me the most about him is how he could be depressed (or whatever you want to call it!) and still productive. If he really believed in that emptiness, what was the motivation behind all of his works? How could one believe there’s no difference between being and not being, and still choose to live, and even pretend to enjoy it?

Khayyam and his poetry just made my life and the lightness of it more unbearable. I tried to escape from it and exactly at the right time, life showed me an escape path, a distraction, but then I realized that it was just a way to feel the emptiness of it even harder. Sometimes you think life, with all its emptiness and meaninglessness has some intelligence behind it that directs you to where you supposed to go (whatever that means), and there’s no escape from it.

They say “if you want to make Gods laugh, tell them about your plans”, but recently I think it doesn’t matter if you plan something or not, “Gods” will have their share of laughter anyway. I just can’t find any better purpose for this life, it’s all about being Gods’ clowns.

I wonder if they’re ever going to get tired of this laughter and this show; how many reruns do they need to see?


San Francisco

Apr 6, 2006- English, blog, Notes
  1. Kia, I urge you to return to Khayyam. Don’t think of him as another one of our ancient poets. He was a universal genius. Khayyam is our Mozart, our Einstein, our Hawkins. He was a masterful mathematician and a great scientist. He carried a knowledge of the world far above his contemporaries. And yet when did Mozart or Einstein write so beautifully? He had achieved enlightenment centuries before the Renaissance.

    Our Sufi poets were mostly ignorant of science. For them everything was as mysterious as to cavemen. They wrote from the dark depths of ignorance about an empty mysticism. Khayyam was perched high, basking in the light of discovery and knowledge. With incisive curiosity he asks the pertinent questions. He predicts the randomness of the universe. He rejects convention. Even his poetry is in the most parsimonious of formats…like a mathematical expression, short and yet filled with meaning.

    Rumi’s poetry appears complex yet is empty; Khayyam’s seems simple and yet is so very hard to comprehend. Just like E=mc(squared).

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April 6
Category: - English, blog, Notes