Several weeks ago, I ran across this post about Kahlil Gibran and his poem “Said a Blade of Grass”. I can appreciate the point to the post as well as the poem, even though I’d never heard of this particular poet before. It got me thinking, and that’s the door where understanding can come in…
SAID A BLADE OF GRASS by Kahlil Gibran
Said a blade of grass to an autumn leaf, “You make such a noise falling! You scatter all my winter dreams.”
Said the leaf indignant, “Low-born and low-dwelling! Songless, peevish thing! You live not in the upper air and you cannot tell the sound of singing.”
Then the autumn leaf lay down upon the earth and slept. And when spring came she waked again — and she was a blade of grass.
And when it was autumn and her winter sleep was upon her, and above her through all the air the leaves were falling, she muttered to herself, “O these autumn leaves! They make such noise! They scatter all my winter dreams.”
Last night I had a dream that included a reference to this poem. In the dream…
A teammate was working a large, outdoor grill as I was helping prepare plates and handing out the finished steaks to people at some sort of event – something like a cook-off. A young man, apparently part of our team, ran up behind the grill all excited about an alteration he’d made to the marinade and gave us a couple of bites to try. It was sweet and smoky, even without the grilling, but the best part was the melt-in-your-mouth quality hard to get in steaks. Our griller and I immediately agreed, and we began cooking and serving the steaks with the new marinade instead. The crowd seemed as pleased as we were.
Standing indoors, I was holding a plate with a freshly cooked steak and staring into space. The man on my left assumed the steak was his, rubbed his hands together in anticipation and sat at a small table (school desk?) behind me. A teenage boy was in line behind him playing on his phone and moved to sit in another desk seat at the back. Another man behind the boy in line was bored or irritated and stepped up with a sigh. I wasn’t paying any attention to these things.
The actions of others only dimly registered beyond the buzz in my ears. I was angry. I suddenly threw the plate at the wall. It broke. I assume the steak ended up on the floor somewhere, and I still didn’t feel any better.
The man sitting at the small table behind me cried, “Hey, that was mine!” I turned and lit into him that he wasn’t even in line so how could he know it was his. The back of my mind provided the details I had ignored before so I knew what I was saying wasn’t true, but my anger needed an outlet. Then I lit into the boy for taking up a spot in line when he obviously wasn’t eating, and I turned to the next guy.
…noisy falling leaves, they disturb my winter sleep…
I heard the words and, though not precise to the poem, I understood. Then I woke.
In the real world I know I would never act this way in a service role nor toward people wholly innocent of any wrong-doing, but that really isn’t the point. I have reacted irrationally, even violently, out of anger before (though I have managed to not break anything). A calm, rational part of my mind provides calm, rational points counter to what my actions and words would have the outside world believe is going on my head.
The point in the end, I believe, is just as the poem indicates: Everyone feels their own feelings are justified and the urgency of their own drama supersedes anyone else’s no matter what the bigger picture might be. We forget to look beyond ourselves and sometimes selfishly don’t want to try.
I’m constantly learning how to be a better human, so I choose to take this to heart. I hope I will remember it the next time I’m “justifiably” angry and won’t react as irrationally as I sometimes have in the past.