The Art Of Disappearing


I came upon this poem by chance and fell in love with it. Meditators know this issue painfully intimately — as do introverts like me: the pulling of attention and desire outward even when one finds joy being with oneself. And I love how poetess Naomi Shihab Nye offers advice with humor and insight, ending with a reminder to cherish for a lifetime. 

When they say don’t I know you?
say no.

When they invite you to the party
remember what parties are like
before answering.
Someone telling you in a loud voice

they once wrote a poem.
Greasy sausage balls on a paper plate.
Then reply.

If they say we should get together.
say why?

It’s not that you don’t love them any more.
You’re trying to remember something
too important to forget.
Trees. The monastery bell at twilight.
Tell them you have a new project.
It will never be finished.

When someone recognizes you in a grocery store
nod briefly and become a cabbage.
When someone you haven’t seen in ten years
appears at the door,
don’t start singing him all your new songs.
You will never catch up.

Walk around feeling like a leaf.
Know you could tumble any second.
Then decide what to do with your time.

Naomi Shihab Nye

14 thoughts on “The Art Of Disappearing”

  1. Often when i do this i get branded as a tortoise getting curled up in the secured folds of my shell. I am glad to have read this. For me these get-togethers and so called dinner chats are a waste of time and resources. Do you need food to be together. or merely hanging around discussing everything under the sun almost loosely and then dispersing. Your blogs are quite interesting and meaningful. Thank you very much.

    1. Yes, I recently came across a book called “Quiet: The Power of Introverts” which has been quite liberating in accepting my own type. You may enjoy it too…

      1. thanks for the tip will try to locate it next time when i am on the move, wishing you success…..

  2. Kindred soul appreciating the poem immensely, thanks! I often tell my friends I was surely a cloistered monk or sadhu in a cave in many former lives, solitude is so much my nature. I will also look up the book, sounds great. Best to you Aalif…love your blog.

  3. Oh Lord. Remind me not to invite Naomi over….I’d need a few shots to deal with her! Seriously, great poem, Aalif. I love GD and am listening to him over and over. He’s a normal, down-to-earth guru. Not the type to float around. Thanks again for the audios.

  4. ‘If they say we should get together.
    say why?’….aaaahhhhhhhaahaaaaa… very nice..

    ‘Walk around feeling like a leaf’… wow!….
    thanks a lot..

    1. Yes, it’s such a lovely poem for all meditators… 🙂 I remember this last line a lot these days. More so, because my name also sounds like ‘a leaf’ 🙂

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