Monday, June 23, 2008

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Excerpt from The Valley of Knowledge

"There was once a lover who had sighed for long years in separation from his beloved, and wasted in the fire of remoteness. From the rule of love, his heart was empty of patience, and his body weary of his spirit; he reckoned life without her as a mockery, and time consumed him away. How many a day he found no rest in longing for her; how many a night the pain of her kept him from sleep; his body was worn to a sigh, his heart's wound had turned him to a cry of sorrow. He had given a thousand lives for one taste of the cup of her presence, but it availed him not. The doctors knew no cure for him, and companions avoided his company; yea, physicians have no medicine for one sick of love, unless the favor of the beloved one deliver him.

At last, the tree of his longing yielded the fruit of despair, and the fire of his hope fell to ashes. Then one night he could live no more, and he went out of his house and made for the marketplace. On a sudden, a watchman followed after him. He broke into a run, with the watchman following; then other watchmen came together, and barred every passage to the weary one. And the wretched one cried from his heart, and ran here and there, and moaned to himself: "Surely this watchman is Izrá'íl, my angel of death, following so fast upon me; or he is a tyrant of men, seeking to harm me." His feet carried him on, the one bleeding with the arrow of love, and his heart lamented. Then he came to a garden wall, and with untold pain he scaled it, for it proved very high; and forgetting his life, he threw himself down to the garden.

And there he beheld his beloved with a lamp in her hand, searching for a ring she had lost. When the heart-surrendered lover looked on his ravishing love, he drew a great breath and raised up his hands in prayer, crying: "O God! Give Thou glory to the watchman, and riches and long life. For the watchman was Gabriel, guiding this poor one; or he was Isráfíl, bringing life to this wretched one!"

Indeed, his words were true, for he had found many a secret justice in this seeming tyranny of the watchman, and seen how many a mercy lay hid behind the veil. Out of wrath, the guard had led him who was athirst in love's desert to the sea of his loved one, and lit up the dark night of absence with the light of reunion. He had driven one who was afar, into the garden of nearness, had guided an ailing soul to the heart's physician.

Now if the lover could have looked ahead, he would have blessed the watchman at the start, and prayed on his behalf, and he would have seen that tyranny as justice; but since the end was veiled to him, he moaned and made his plaint in the beginning. Yet those who journey in the garden land of knowledge, because they see the end in the beginning, see peace in war and friendliness in anger."

-The Baha'i' Writings

Sunday, June 15, 2008

"Your dog is eating an avocado!!"

If anyone is a sucker for good ol' fashioned wholesome t.v., it's yours truly. As far back as I can remember PBS has been the channel of choice in our household. Whether we were watching the 5 hour aerial tour of Rhode Island or the epic telethons (rife with witty telethon banter), PBS always made us feel squeaky clean. And it's in honor of this squeaky clean-ness that I've decided to pay homage to the show that I think is the squeaky cleanest of them all: "California's Gold with Huell Howser". The premise of the show, for those of you who have been deprived, involves Huell Howser taking the viewer on a 30 minute adventure to some of California's finest hidden treasures. Past episodes have included thrilling events such as the harvesting of a grapefruit from a 100 year old grapefruit tree in Little Tokyo, the original Cornish Carol Choir of Grass Valley as they reenact their 1940 concert of traditional Cornish Christmas Carols, and a trip to a computer recycling plant. Yes! The magic of Huell's show isn't in his uncanny ability to find the most benign locations in all of California, rather, it lies in his unsullied, heartfelt enthusiasm for these locales. Behold:

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

I'd rather be doing this...

Is that guy playing a recorder?

Saturday, May 31, 2008

May 30th 2008: Raising the Bar

Since last week my days have been nearly uncontrollably exciting, but today, man! Today was on another level. First of all, I got a text message at 8:20am that went like this: "Hurry up man...we lost the battle of the seats...couldn't save you one." Can you imagine a more horrific beginning to a friday morning than waking up to the realization that you may not be able to sit in the very very very front of your bar review class? (As a side note, the battle of the seats is shaping up to be really intense. My friends have an inexplicable, yet mildly admirable desire to get to class 1 hour early in order to get front row seats. I, on the other hand, figured that they can "save" me a seat and thus, I can enjoy an entire extra hour of recuperation. Boy, was I wrong. I was painfully unaware that seat-saving and its related political nuances are not confined to elementary school cafeterias. The individuals who share our table take great issue with the fact that I can enjoy the great privilege of sharing a spot on the lecturer's lap without having to endure the toils of waking up at dawn.) After I received the message and hit snooze on my alarm, I convinced myself that sitting further than 3 feet away from the stage is not going to be my downfall in July. So, I strolled into class a reasonable 15 minutes early and found myself a cozy seat near the back. I was amazed to realize that the people back there are not only real, but that they are also very nice! I immediately was able to partake in a great food exchange program. I was very pleased to notice that the person to my left enthusiastically accepted my offer of Famous Amos cookies. As a matter of fact, she agreed to eat 2 cookies! I tried offering a third cookie (the final one in the bag), but despite my best efforts, she stayed true to the "i won't eat your last cookie because I just met you" philosophy on sharing. She was nice enough to reciprocate; she offered me a piece of her orange (that was already peeled and sliced inside of a ziplock bag!). She even gave me some insights into it's health benefits. "Lots of Vitamin C", she said. The oranges looked particularly tasty, so I obliged her request (despite the fact that my fingers were going to get all sticky and i was going to have to discreetly wipe my hands on the seat). This friendly reciprocity went on until 4:50pm, at which point we all begrudgingly tore ourselves away from the 8 hour party I like to call Constitutional Law.

Next, I made it to my nephews piano recital (above). He did a great job, playing "Skating on the Pond" by Dittenhaver. I have no idea who this Dittenhaver person is, but i'll be sure to drop his name if I'm ever invited to a stuffy cheese party at an art gallery. To celebrate my nephews impressive achievement we went to CPK where we admired the wide array of decorative pizza boxes on the walls (truly one of the most bizarre design concepts i've ever come across).

To say my day was amazing would be an understatement of epic proportions. All subsequent days will forever be in the shadow of May 30, 2008.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Quote of the Day

Something strange happened this evening. Let me preface. For those of you who know me, you're well aware that during a deep/philosophical life conversation I spare no opportunity to insert a "plant analogy". For those of you who are wondering what this wonderful quoted phrase refers to, well, brace refers to some correlation between some aspect of life and the plant kingdom (usually a fruit-bearing tree, or, if I'm especially on my game I'll mention a bush, vegetable, or even a lowly (disenfranchised) plant, such as a weed.) I use these analogies because, let's face it, they are perfect. We are just like trees. Tonight, I was engaged in one of the above-referenced conversations and like a beacon in the night, a "plant analogy" opportunity presented itself. I exclaimed the following gem: "if you forget to water a plant it will grow weak no matter how valid your reason was for neglecting it." I was using this analogy to explain the doctrine of unintended consequences (special thanks to barbri for the vernacular). As I continued with my marvelous analogy my counterpart said, with deeply disturbing conviction, "Ashkan, you are not a plant." I know what you're thinking, and it goes without saying, but i'll say it anyways: how could anyone say such a thing? Upon brief reflection I've realized that there is absolutely no merit to this statement. I've attached photographic evidence to dispel any uncertainty. Case closed.