The other day I pilfered a copy of The Essential Rumi from my daughter Wendy’s bookshelf. This is one of the benefits of having a child who is extremely well-read. It’s literally like having a library at your disposal. She’s unaware that I “borrowed” her book, but if she’s reading this post then she certainly knows it now. Rumi was a 13th century philosopher and theologian who just happens to have written truly beautiful poetry that is extremely relevant to our 21st century world. He is considered by many to be the greatest spiritual poet of all time. There’s a poem of his called “Birdwings” that has been on my mind for the last week or so, and I had the sudden need to read it again and share it with you.
Your grief for what you’ve lost lifts a mirror
up to where you are bravely working.
Expecting the worst, you look, and instead,
here’s the joyful face you’ve been wanting to see.
Your hand opens and closes and opens and closes.
If it were always a fist or always stretched open,
you would be paralysed.
Your deepest presence is in every small contracting and expanding,
the two as beautifully balanced and coordinated
It’s part of our nature as human beings to feel regret, and that regret is so closely tied to a feeling of loss. We look back on something that we did, a blatant mistake that we made, or some private error in judgment that led us astray and caused us to feel as though we lost a part of ourselves. Maybe it was a loss of innocence or self-respect, maybe we were careless and put our heart in harm’s way, or maybe we lost our sense of balance and teetered dangerously out of control. Whatever the case, we begin creating sentences in our heads that begin with the words “I should have,” “I wish I hadn’t,” or “If only.” These are all synonymous with “What could I possibly have been thinking?” and can quickly become part of a destructive process that offers us no way to positively move forward. We have such a desire to go back in time to that pivotal moment (because there always is one) when we took that first step on the path into the proverbial dark wood. It’s frightening to think that we lost something that was part of us because we believe that we will never find it again. It feels as though it’s gone forever and we spin and spin in an endless effort to regain our sense of self.
In this poem, Rumi offers us the idea of looking at regret a bit differently. If we allow it to be a mirror, and we relinquish our fear of seeing something less when our own eyes are reflected back at us, then regret can be a powerful force that teaches us, and that moves us forward on our journey. He suggests that we grow through a means of contraction and expansion, without which we would remain in a place that offered us no forward movement at all. Regret, and the grief that follows it, can cause us to shut down, but the acceptance of the fact that they are part of the natural process that makes us human, will open us right back up again. This perfect synchronicity between loss and gain will, in fact, lead us to the most profound understanding of ourselves, and carry us upward towards something that is so much more, whether it’s a greater joy, a deeper sense of peace, or a love that’s closer to divinity. In order to get there, we have to be gentle with ourselves and accept our mistakes as part of our individual journey, without which we would never know the beautiful things that are about to happen next.
For today’s cocktail, I created a base that was an equal parts blend of three spirits. I used Standard Wormwood’s rye whiskey, yellow Chartreuse, and Amaro Meletti. The wormwood in the the rye is said to quiet the mind and bring a sense of peaceful clarity, and the saffron in both the Chartreuse and the Meletti is a timeless symbol of both humility and that which is very precious to us. These were intended to represent our acceptance of what makes us human. Once I had my base, I built the drink on either side, using orgeat syrup and a ginger shrub as my sweet ingredients, and lemon juice as my sour. The almonds in the orgeat reflect watchfulness and promise, and ginger stands for everything that is healing and soothing. Lemons symbolize bitterness and disappointment, which are so closely tied to regret, and the two different bitters were meant to enhance the flavors of the rye and the saffron. I topped everything with sparkling water and served it tall. This may seem like a lot of ingredients but they are all intentional, and they push and pull one another gently in a way that was meant to echo the process of moving forward toward a beautiful sense of being whole. Cheers everyone. Happy Friday!
Your Deepest Presence
¾ oz Standard Wormwood rye whiskey
¾ oz Yellow Chartreuse
¾ oz Amaro Meletti
¾ oz lemon juice
½ oz Giffard Orgeat syrup
¼ oz Tait Farms Ginger Shrub
1 dash Black Cloud Charred Cedar bitters
1 dash Black Cloud Saffron Mango bitters
Sparkling water to top
Add all the ingredients to a cocktail shaker and shake vigorously with ice until very cold. Strain into a Collins glass over fresh ice and top with the sparkling water. Garnish with a candied ginger cube. Enjoy!