View With A Grain Of Sand

child shell

My almost-five-year-old son is gradually leaving his magical world-without-words for our grown-up world where words obscure, and even replace, reality. A world where a dead stump of a word like ‘man’ does not change whether the body is twenty or forty or eighty. A world where every moment will feel like a previous moment because it can be described by the same words. A world where life itself feels caged within a small, four-letter-word.

It is sad to see him bit-by-bit losing his innate wonder as he excitedly journeys to become a grown-up every day. And once in a while, it is important for us grown-ups to revisit our original, virginal perception too. In which words have no place — except as musical sounds. In which we realize how many lies we must cocoon ourselves within to live our ‘normal’ life.

Here’s some excerpts from a beautiful, mind-stopping poem by Polish poet Wislawa Szymborska that does that job for me. I hope it gives you also a glimpse into the magical world-without-words that we live in once again:

We call it a grain of sand,
but it calls itself neither grain nor sand.
It does just fine, without a name,
whether general, particular,
permanent, passing,
incorrect, or apt.

The window has a wonderful view of a lake,
but the view doesn’t view itself.
It exists in this world
colorless, shapeless,
soundless, odorless, and painless.

The lake’s floor exists floorlessly,
and its shore exists shorelessly.
The water feels itself neither wet nor dry
and its waves to themselves are neither singular nor plural.
They splash deaf to their own noise
on pebbles neither large nor small.

And all this beneath a sky by nature skyless
in which the sun sets without setting at all
and hides without hiding behind an unminding cloud.
The wind ruffles it, its only reason being
that it blows.


14 thoughts on “View With A Grain Of Sand”

    1. Thanks Reena. The little fellow is still a barrel of laughs though. Yesterday he was singing a school song. I asked him who created this song. He said seriously “God”. I asked him when his teachers met God so he replied: “When God came in a pink helicopter… no? Yesterday…” Amazing imagination they have at this age… 🙂

    1. So happy to hear that it has resonated with you as strongly as it did with me. I heard the poem in a brilliant talk by Joseph Goldstein on Anatta at the dharmaseed.org website. You may want to check it out…

      1. Thanks Aalif, I’ll take a look at that source. In the meantime I used the poem in my new post with a link back here. You should receive a pingback shortly. GRATITUDE

  1. It is always sad when a child loses his/her innocence. My son has Asperger’s syndrome (a high-functioning form of autism-like Rizwan Khan in MNIK) and could not only talk well before 5 years old, but also amaze his peers in the playground at school by being able to read a newspaper! Fortunately he hasn’t completely lost his innocence and has since invented a new world for himself, complete with its own language, where he retreats when the adult world gets too demanding. It’s a pity we couldn’t all find our own worlds to escape into. He’s 29 and has a degree in Physics BTW
    Loved the poem, Aalif. A beautiful way of viewing the world!

    1. Wow – my wife works often with children who have ADHD and Aspergers and she is often in awe of them too… And heartbroken at how they are misunderstood by society and often parents. Glad to know your son has a mother who knows he’s special…

      1. He is very special to me. Truly a ‘Gift from God’. Yes, often these people are misunderstood and I admire SRK for taking the courage to represent someone with Aspergers in such a controversial movie. However, all children are ‘special’ when they are loved by their parents and I can see that you have a warm and loving relationship with your son. I hope he keeps his innocence for a while longer and that he grows up to be the same kind, loving and free-spirited person that you are 🙂

  2. Like a laser beam.
    Leaves me speechless and in wonder.
    Thank you for sharing Aalif as I find my own voice and continue to be dumbfounded by words.

  3. Thanks Val. I like your blog too, especially the picture of the dog on the pier. So much silence and yet so much potential for energy any second. He’s a true yogi!

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