Monday, February 1, 2010

Gibran & Ziadeh

I'm ashamed. Gibran and Ziadeh have been on my mind. My original copy of Love Letters burned in a fire over 10 years ago. Trying to get another copy soon after was difficult and had to be ordered but I finally received it a little later. It's been on my book shelf ever since...never once having been picked up until yesterday.

The book is a collection of letters between Kahlil Gibran and May Ziadeh spanning over a 19 year period between the years 1912 and 1931. I felt a connection with Gibran after reading The Prophet, his most famous piece. When I read it, I resonated with the words and the images that conjured up in my mind and the feelings that stirred in my heart. Half of what I say is meaningless but I say it so that the other half may reach you. This one line is a reflection of the man and the art.

Gibran's correspondence with Ziadeh, at first, was an exchange of views and opinions regarding literature and other pieces of work. As the years passed, the letters took on a more spiritual and deeply poetic feel. Gibran and Ziadeh never knew that in their nows, in their moments of strength and of weakness, in their joys and sorrows, these letters would find their way to the public. I am so grateful for this gift and to be a present witness to a love that was and still is one of the most beautiful exchanges of deep, heart felt affection that I have ever read on paper. A kind of longing and yearning for the real permeates the pages. I could feel the desire and the challenge in trying to keep a thought, a feeling in the now and how Gibran made every attempt to make the eternal tangible, fluid, and not separate from his art and his life. He was a reflection of spirit and all that entails.

In one letter May asks what the colour of Kahlil's suit is. In his response, he describes two suits, one made of flesh and bones and the other as one designed for dervishes (I love that image of the dervish). He indicates that his garment is also stained with paint. Then he goes on to say how he'd like to divest himself of flesh and bones because he doesn't want them about him when he speaks with her. When I first read that line, I had to stop reading. It's just so moving. One can't help but be awakened and then transported to those spaces within oneself that up until then, had either been hidden or neglected. Gibran sees his flesh, his body as a distraction, and something that gets in the way of that kind of expression which comes from a place of spiritual purity and sensibility. There is no need for I love you. Gibran makes our present day expression of love and emotion look trivial, meaningless and painfully superficial. And of course it isn't. It's just that the correspondence between Gibran and Ziadeh feels different and the magic that is created and felt cannot be denied.

The most interesting aspect of their relationship is that they never met, ever, at least not in person. And yet they were spirit. After rereading Love Letters, I remember why I so thoroughly enjoyed it the first time. I'm aware of the fact that at one time, they were both alive and breathing, that they each roamed the earth and their own sacred spaces. I imagine what it would have been like for May to have received that third, fifth, tenth letter...I also wonder what life would have been like for them had they met. Would that kind of dialogue have continued?

It appears safe to pour the contents of one's being and heart out onto paper. I don't have any trouble with that myself but I can't say it's easy. I do sense a kind of vulnerability that is created with an unveiling of sentiment or emotion. If you know that someone important to you is going to be on the receiving end whom you've never actually met, you're careful as to how and what words come through because you're residing in sacred territory and you don't mess around with the sacred. I'm sure it wasn't easy for May to profess her love considering the times, social conventions and restrictions. The genuine outpouring in these letters is expressed through a sort of spiritual language that is unmistakable and poetically powerful. This was not a typical relationship by any means.

There is also something to be said about the anticipation of the next letter. I imagine a great passion was continually ignited and the fact that they weren't involved physically only made their bond greater. I think the dialogue would have ended to a certain extent. It would have had no choice but to change. On paper, the dream becomes the real, the constant, the eternal. But in this world, in the world they would have known and experienced, and in person, the real would have been somewhat obscured because it wouldn't have had that kind of poetic background or justice to keep it steady and fluid. For brief moments, one can maintain that kind of intensity but out here where most of us live in our left brain, it is an endeavour, a life long task to find the right balance between the left and right hemispheres. I think a little bit of the magic would have naturally been lost which is why I think I am so moved by their unique relationship to begin with--it doesn't fit into any other mold I can think of when it comes to love, unity or the eternal flame, as Gibran liked to call it. To me, both Gibran and Ziadeh were evolved beings capable of fusing all parts of themselves into one.

1 comment:

Aniko said...

Oh my god, these entries are getting better and better...your insights move me. You have an incredible way with words.