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Knocking on the Door and Not Letting Me In: Change Inspired by Rumi

Updated on October 26, 2015
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Rumi wrote a poem entitled Who is at the Door in which the main character will not allow a friend into his home because he responds to “Who is it?” by saying “It is me.” At the end of the poem, we witness the following interaction:

His friend called out, "Who is that at the door?" He answered, "Only you are at the door, O seizer of hearts!" (The friend) said, "Now, since you are me, O me, come in, (since) there's no room for two 'me's' in the house.

While this poem was suggested to me because of my love for writing and passion about all religions and how they intersect, the friend who suggested it had no idea that a simple poem would change the course of my life. I realized that I was standing at the door of my life and not letting myself in because I was responding to “Who is it” with the wrong thought process.

Today I hope to inspire you to reflect upon your own life as I share with you how this poem helped change my life and has made me look at the world and my place in it a bit differently.


I am but one of many.
I am but one of many. | Source

Change 1: Realize I Am Only A Speck In This World

This poem helped me realize I was spending too much time being “me” and not “you” to the world. I was not taking time to smell the proverbial roses. Instead, I was smelling the Jersey turnpike and was not pleased with the abuse to my nostrils.To change this, I had to get outside of myself. I had to remember I was but one of many in the world and if I wanted my voice to be heard and to make a change, I needed to get off my butt and start doing something about it.

I began speaking to teens at an inner city high school about the effects of teen dating violence and how to prevent getting into a bad relationship. I began volunteering with local charity efforts and stepping outside of my comfort zone. I helped others and in the meantime met some great people who are now friends. By stepping outside of myself, I was able to experience the world again. In the past year since making these changes, I have been involved with a lot of charity work, helped many people find their passions and uncover their dreams, and have learned how much I love connecting with others in real relationships that produce encouragement, love, and openness.

Change 2: Free the Boyfriend

I had begun seeing this guy who was the type of guy I am often told “girls like me” (divorced, two kids, career-driven, opinionated) don’t get to have. You know the type of guys with brains, good jobs, and great futures. However, it was clear that our plans didn't mesh and our personalities would lead to another divorce. I could see that for us to be happy together we both had to change who we were, what we wanted in life, and the paths we were traveling. This didn’t strike me as a better alternative to living a happy life alone or waiting for someone who respects a "girl like me".

When I thought of Rumi’s use of “me” and “you”, I realized that the boyfriend and I would never be on one accord and therefore needed to end it. This was a huge step for me - to give up something that I was told I would never achieve because of my past - yet I faithfully stepped forward and broke up with him and suffered the consequences with friends, family members, and being back to watching movies at noontime in a theater with other people who supposedly have too high of expectations for love.

Change 3: Dump Some Friends

I learned after making Change 2 that you can’t free your boyfriend without realizing you have made some horrible choices in friendships. It seems when you start evaluating one type of relationship, others follow suit pretty quickly. As such, I began evaluating every friendship I had.

I asked myself whether I encouraged him/her? Whether we talked or had become lost in the internet connection that stands between us? Whether we had had a give and take relationship or only giving – and for those who were giving only I had to ask myself if there were other reasons to remain in the relationship. I found myself looking at every friendship and acquaintance as if it were a friends list on Facebook…but I didn’t have the luxury of just “defriending” some of them by clicking an x near their picture. Instead I had to sit with some and explain why I didn’t feel there was a mutually beneficial friendship and why I needed to end the relationship. Others I had to apologize to because I realized I was the one taking everything they were giving. And others I had to explain that while we were mutually beneficial to one another, I felt the season for us to be friends had come to an end and I needed to move on. This might sound overly rambunctious, but as one of my closest friends says, “You are the person who comes off so open that no one realizes how closed you really are until they get to know you.”

With each friendship that closed its doors, I became a step closer to “you” and not “me”. It was freeing. But there was still work to do. The hard stuff had not even begun. I was finding myself wishing Rumi had kept his thoughts to himself or that I didn’t have so many late night thoughts that fly through my mind.


Like fixing up an old house, I had to find what was worth salvaging and identify what needed to be demolished.
Like fixing up an old house, I had to find what was worth salvaging and identify what needed to be demolished. | Source

Change 4: Abandon Myself (well...pieces anyway)

Rumi notes in the poem:

"The two ends of the thread are not (suitable) for the needle. (So), if you are a single strand, come into the needle." (Only) the thread becomes connected with the needle; the eye of the needle is not appropriate for a camel.The camel's existence can never become thin except by (means of) the shears of strict exercises and work. (But) for that, O so-and-so, the Power of God is needed-- since it is the "Be! And it was" for every (apparently) impossible (situation).”

This brought to mind immediately a documentary on Disney that I watched a while ago in which I learned that the company was built on making the impossible only a state of mind. I thought to myself – if I am going to let go of the boyfriend and friends, in the name of wanting to become more aligned with my true self – wouldn’t have to also let go of pieces of me? This was perhaps the hardest part – as I am my own worst critic and had just freed my boyfriend and several once-close friends. To say I was a bit vulnerable and hard on myself could be downplaying the true severity of the act of abandoning pieces of myself. I had to make a few lists before I could step away from myself and really look at myself through the door and say “This has to go. This can stay.” (For example, my love for hiking and Cummins engines will never make it through a removal process…but the selfishness that had begun to take residence in my life when it came to my time needed to go out with the trash immediately.)

Change 5: Change Myself in the Areas Requiring Improvement

Not everything in my life prevented me from becoming “you” at the door. In fact, few things really needed to go out with the trash, but several others were scarred or weather beaten and needed some improvements and renovations. So I started, and am still in the process of, refining my behaviors, thoughts, and overall actions toward certain situations and people.

I am learning to step outside of myself so I can grow, believe that “Impossible is nothing and everything is within my limits as long as I am willing to go out of bounds sometimes when the lines are preventing me from achieving success yet don’t break the guidelines I set forth for how I want to live my life” (noted within the Disney documentary). I began spending more time traveling and volunteering, cancelled cable so I spend more time outdoors or reading and writing inside, and started making friends with children my youngest daughter’s age. In each activity, I have felt more alive and have started enjoying life again.

Would you open the door for yourself to enter in?

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Would You Let Yourself In?

No single change was easy. In fact, some were a close second to wanting to undergo Chinese Water Torture willfully To avoid the process and pain. However, every one of them was worth it for what they have done to make my life better. In the years prior to making these changes, I had lost a lot of myself due to pressures from divorce, family, and career. By making these changes, I was slowly able to take my life back and put myself in the driver's seat instead of allowing pressure and others' opinions matter more than my own dreams.

I would encourage everyone to undertake a journey in which they evaluate every "room" in their lives and determine what needs to go, what must stay, what should be changed, and what should be demolished. Life will never be easy and our circumstances will always provide us with the desire to wish we had made different choices. However, if we are able to self-reflect and know that our circumstances are temporary, we can smile because we are on the right path toward wholeness and reconciliation. By undergoing this journey, I have become a woman I would be happy to open the to and allow in my home.

I want to challenge you to think about this question as I close, “If you were to knock on your own door – would you let yourself in?” If you wouldn’t, what can you change in your life so you will allow yourself to walk through?

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    • LABrashear profile image

      LABrashear 5 years ago from My Perfect Place, USA

      Wow - what an incredible journey. I am actually undergoing a type of this reflection myself. I recently watched something that asked why our expectations for how others treat us are higher than for those we have for how we treat ourselves. Makes you think. Voted up!

    • EyesStraightAhead profile image
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      Shell Vera 5 years ago from Connecticut, USA

      This is where my journey is right now - why do I allow myself to encourage others, support others, etc., but when it comes to myself I feel I am unworthy of that amazing love that makes your heart melt, or unable to accept help from others. It is a very hard thing to admit to yourself the reasons why you don't treat yourself the same as you treat others. We treat others with much more respect, encouragement, and love than we give to ourselves and then wonder why we are burnt out, stressed, and feeling like life isn't going right. I imagine it will be an incredible but difficult reflection and journey!

    • LucidWarrior profile image

      David Cook 5 years ago from Suburban Philadelphia

      I love this! I went through a similar self evaluation after my divorce. I had to ask myself am I someone I would want to date? The answer in the beginning was "no". So I went to work on the not-so-great parts of me. I am working on a few things but I am in a much better place. I love Rumi's work. It's very deep but truly inspirational when you connect with the spiritual meaning.

    • EyesStraightAhead profile image
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      Shell Vera 5 years ago from Connecticut, USA

      Lucid, I can relate to the post-divorce reflection. I was not ready for dating, and still don't think I am. It has been nearly 3 years since my divorce and 3 1/2 since he left and I can honestly say I am just starting to understand what went wrong and how to fix it. Maybe because my loss was more like a death, with him here one day and gone the next unexpectedly, it is harder to just get on with things? I see so many people who get out of marriage and move on to the next without the self-reflection and I believe it is why the divorce rate for second marriages is so high. I am hoping that by working on myself, focusing on the things ahead of me, I will be ready when and if the time comes to move on. If it doesn't, at least I will be content with who I am, and that is a gift in and of itself. Thanks for reading!

    • LucidWarrior profile image

      David Cook 5 years ago from Suburban Philadelphia

      Great response. Anything you do for yourself to move on and heal your wounds will serve you well regardless if it attracts your ideal partner. However I do believe in the law of attraction. Be the person you would fall in love with and love will find you....:)

    • EyesStraightAhead profile image
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      Shell Vera 5 years ago from Connecticut, USA

      Very true. Time will tell.

    • KrystalD profile image

      KrystalD 5 years ago from Los Angeles

      This was a great hub. I totally relate to each part. We seem to have been traveling down similar journeys of change. One point I identified with was watching the documentary on Disney. I find that the true lives of other dynamic people (people that overcame hardships or made major changes in order to grow) are not only inspirational, but necessary. It is important to stay encouraged while growing. As you mentioned, it does not always feel good. I am glad you wrote this hub. I am sharing and hopeing it reaches others on the road of change or that need to change lanes.

    • EyesStraightAhead profile image
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      Shell Vera 5 years ago from Connecticut, USA

      Thanks Krystal! I am hoping as I continue to change, it will lead to a happier, healthier me. I don't sleep a lot right now (hence being online late so often!) but I have noticed that when I am sleeping more with each change I make, each obstacle I overcome, and each positive step I take. Thank you for the share!

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      SanXuary 5 years ago

      Up to this point in my life I have done everything I am supposed to do and more. Only I am headed in the opposite direction. I have placed to much faith in people and life its self and I am fed up with it all. I have been doing what you have been doing for a long time. Seeing life as a journey and trying to figure out what its trying to teach me. Perhaps being in a dark place is the proper perspective but not something I really planned on being. I have been a light that shines to long for others and found no rewards more or less mercy with this attitude. It does not mean that I do not shine when I can but my light seems to be fading at the moment because it has very little to shine on perhaps.

    • EyesStraightAhead profile image
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      Shell Vera 5 years ago from Connecticut, USA

      SanXuary, your response saddens me. I know all to well how it feels to be in a dark place and feel you are moving in the wrong direction. I found for me that I needed to talk to a professional to gain a real perspective. It helped me a lot. Unfortuantely I don't have any wise words, I can only share what has worked for me in my life and offer to pray for you that God will bring people into your sphere of influence so you may be blessed.

    • profile image

      SanXuary 5 years ago

      Professionals only profit from the misery of others and really do not care what the out come is. I think I just tried to long under the worst conditions possible and in the end I am empty because evil has only triumphed. I have been here before and know God has a plan for these people but fail to see any benefit in it for me in such circumstances. I know there is a great power in being the victim and since I have no choice I can only hope to be relieved from such a burden. Keep my faith and suffer and hope some how tomorrow will be a better day. Does evil never stop to know its wrongs and ask its victims for peace in heaven. I can do nothing but wait for a answer and today I still have nothing but time as it becomes wasted once again. I missed another moment stolen from me.

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      AK Shaik 5 years ago

      You are fortunate that you were blessed with this insight.

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      This is such a cool hub! I apologize for not reading it sooner and now I'm kicking myself for not having done so. You have done a remarkable job of opening yourself up for public review and showing the human side of your writing. This is so good I'm saving it so I can refer to it when I need a good butt-kicking!

    • EyesStraightAhead profile image
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      Shell Vera 5 years ago from Connecticut, USA

      Thank you, Billybuc! I am trying to balance my writing where I can share the personal when it will help the overall audience. I reserve the more personal stuff for Faithwriters, as that is for writing in general. I wasn't sure where to publish this one at first but then realized with the community we have here, I believe it will be the best place because it can help others who want to reevaulate where they are. Sometimes we feel alone when we realize we have things about ourselves we don't like, or are in friendships that aren't working for us, etc. My hope is this hub will show others they aren't alone. And as far as kicking yourself, we can kick one another, as I feel the same way about not reading your stuff before the Hubnuggets nominations! Two in two weeks. Amazing! Your writing is wonderful and I am educated and touched when I read it.

    • Millionaire Tips profile image

      Shasta Matova 5 years ago from USA

      This is an incredible journey and very profound. We do need to take stock of our lives from time to time and clean out the clutter.

    • EyesStraightAhead profile image
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      Shell Vera 5 years ago from Connecticut, USA

      Thank you Millionaire! It has been an interesting journey at the least. I love reading your tip on decluttering and look forward to reading more!

    • Millionaire Tips profile image

      Shasta Matova 5 years ago from USA

      EyesStraightAhead, every week I write a list that highlights the favorites of the hubs I read during the week, and this hub is on this week's list. Congrats!

    • EyesStraightAhead profile image
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      Shell Vera 5 years ago from Connecticut, USA

      Thank you Millionaire! What an honor to be selected as a weekly favorite. This is one of my favorite pieces I have written so it is awesome that so many are liking it too! Thank you.

    • Victoria Lynn profile image

      Victoria Lynn 5 years ago from Arkansas, USA

      This is great! Becoming whole--what a great journey. What really struck me is letting some friends go. I think I'm at that place. I'm going through a rough time right now, and friends have been showing up or letting me down in strange ways. I'm reevaluating a lot of things. Thanks for making us think and giving us hope! Voted up, useful, and beautiful. Sharing!

    • Rusticliving profile image

      Elizabeth Rayen 5 years ago from California

      This is a wonderful Hub ESA! What a journey you are on with yourself! How exciting! It is so important that we reaquaint ourselves with the inner soul. I love change. Always have. I firmly believe in new beginnings as it brings on a whole new adventure. Great job! Voted up and across!

    • EyesStraightAhead profile image
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      Shell Vera 5 years ago from Connecticut, USA

      Thank you for your comments Rusticliving! It definitely was an unexpected journey and welcome. Who knew poetry could inspire so deeply? Thank you for reading!

    • EyesStraightAhead profile image
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      Shell Vera 5 years ago from Connecticut, USA

      Thank you Victoria Lynn! The friendship part is tough and I am still always evaluating. It was eye opening to see how many friendships were hurting me. It is never easy to en a friendship but the reward in gaining back time and knowing your relationships are productive and healthy. Good luck with your evaluations and any you have to end.

    • sandrabusby profile image

      Sandra Busby 5 years ago from Tuscaloosa, Alabama, USA

      Thanks for your hub. I'll follow you along. Sandra Busby

    • EyesStraightAhead profile image
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      Shell Vera 5 years ago from Connecticut, USA

      Thank you Sandra!

    • Keri Summers profile image

      Keri Summers 5 years ago from West of England

      "Would you let yourself in?" What an interesting question. You've made some brave choices. Got me thinking! I think as writers we are prone to a bit too much "me" over "you" sometimes. Volunteering is an excellent idea for a way to step outside your own life.

    • EyesStraightAhead profile image
      Author

      Shell Vera 5 years ago from Connecticut, USA

      Thank you Keri. Great point about writers. I am still working through the tendency to be selfish but am much better than I was! Thank you for reading.

    • viveresperando profile image

      viveresperando 4 years ago from A Place Where Nothing Is Real

      Wow, so many parts of your hub really hit home. Hang in there, I removed so much from my life that was so toxic and when I felt I had no strength left and knew I still was not done, prayed and somehow found grace and the chain kept going and "toxic's" left me, even when I felt I had no strength left and gave it to God. Now after some time, things are really right. Still day to day struggles but such joy, strength, energy, and health coming back. Even through this hard time find joy, for joy is always around you and it sounds like you are following your heart and your true path will open up.

    • EyesStraightAhead profile image
      Author

      Shell Vera 4 years ago from Connecticut, USA

      Thank you for your message, viverespando. I am currently at a good place thanks to having a great year of opportunity. I have been able to reflect, write, and enjoy life as it was designed. Every day gets better. Thank you for your encouragement and for reading!

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