Regarding Hafiz, The Muppet Show, and Hitting Yourself On The Head With A Hammer, let me say the following.
I once saw a line written on a bathroom wall. It said “I have given up my search for the truth, and am now looking for a good fantasy.” I loved it. There is a lot to be said for giving up. Not long ago, I gave up my search for purity, and am now shooting for roughly cleanish. The results are in: recent studies have shown that I am less pious, and more sufferable.
I have two jobs: circus comic (like a stand up with tricks.) and sculptor. In one, I am constantly attempting to draw people’s minds to the funny and the unlikely. In the other, I work to make rocks float. Both endeavors provide challenges, most of them from my inner critics.
My inner critics are not a force to be dealt with, a foe to vanquish, or a comment to be deleted. They are as inseperable from me as the brightness from the dawn. Instead of deleting, I have to dance with these rascals, and guess what? They are funny! They traffic in irony, and if allowed, can laugh right with me. I spent some fruitless time trying to shut them up. Now I listen for the funny aspects in their negative chatter.
Statler and Waldorph from the Muppet Show are the last word in delicious criticism. They shoot down everything that comes their way, and invariably wind up laughing at it. I’ve completely stopped trying to silence my inner critics, and am instead repeatedly asking them to have a laugh with me while they are at it. Can we enjoy the voices of our internal critics, and make them a form of entertainment, rather than another mosquito, to be frightened off or killed?
It comes from giving up, for me. I’ve simply had no luck silencing them, so I’m exploring the alternatives.
When I hear “You’re not good enough” and just press “shush” again and again, the resulting silence gives way to understated whispers. When I make some attempt, any attempt, at dialogue or play, direction changes without ensuing murmers.
Reading “The Gift”, poems by Hafiz translated by Ladinsky, I came across something for you on the topic of letting go, and wearing life loosely.
The Vintage Man
Between a good artist
And a great one
Will often lay down his tool
Then pick up an invisible club
On the mind’s table
And helplessly smash the easles and
Whereas the vintage man
No longer hurts himself or anyone
And keeps on
Hafiz is onto something there, the “No longer hurts himself or anyone” rings true as a goal for me. There used to be some hostility in my relationship to negative self talk, a guardedness, and an insistence on gratitude and positivity which simply grew old.
Engaging with a
is fine as wine, but
om shanti shanti, no
bad thoughts allowed
here, tastes of
So great, how do we access playfulness? If I knew that, you think I’d be wasting my time writing? I’d be out playing, like the cool kids! I do suspect the answer lives and laughs somewhere where Hafiz spent a lot of time, in silence and meditation. Sometimes, when all that quiet, the lack of stimulation, and well, the boredom, surrounds us, we can see the voices from a different vantage point, and unmask them. It’s as easy as regarding thoughts as mild entertainment.
They are just our muppets, out for a laugh.
Hafiz poems and excerpts are from Daniel Ladinsky’s Penguin publications The Gift, Poems by Hafiz © copyright 1999, and I Heard God Laughing, Poems of Hope and Joy © copyright 1996 & 2006. Reprinted by permission of the author.