Last year, as I understand it, Rumi was a best-selling poet in the United States, 800 years after he was alive. Kabir, too, is still being widely read -- as is Hafiz, Gibran, and a host of other ecstatic poets from times gone by.
Many people assume these guys must have been praying, meditating, and going on pilgrimages 24/7. I don't think so.
What follows is an homage to Rumi and Kabir -- my fantasy of how the two of them might have spent an evening, in a bowling alley, knocking back some brewskis, if they were alive today (best read aloud in your most dramatic voice).
Rumi and Kabir Bowling
I have been to the place where Rumi and Kabir are bowling all... night... long.
They are rolling perfectly-round balls down a perfectly-polished alley, laughing at the sound of the pins falling down again and again and again.
Every time they bowl a strike, even when they miss, which is often, their aim wandering in fabulously random ways around this grand interior space.
Rumi orders a shot of Red Eye, Kabir, a Bud Lite, their clinking of glasses some kind of esoteric temple bell ritual neither of them understand.
They keep drinking and laughing and drinking again, knocking back the elixir of their late night bowling life and muttering under their barely-moving breath about the strangers outside returning home from yet another night shift.
Rumi opens his mouth to speak, but nothing comes out. Kabir, long beard flecked with foam, orders a second round and then a third as if the world was on fire.
Suddenly, Rumi glances over his left shoulder. More pins fall, this time leaving a perfect 7-10 split. Kabir, knowing he never has to write another poem to prove himself whole, leaps from his chair and hurls himself down the perfectly polished alley, arms outstretched, moving at the speed of lite beer.
Both pins fall. Like cedars in Lebanon. Like Adam from Grace. Like trees in a forest with no one close enough to hear whether anything has actually happened or not. No one except Red Eye Rumi swiveling in his chair and pointing to the door.
A small man, in a starched white uniform, enters, many keys hanging from his belt. "Hey, you two! What are you doing here? This place is closed!"
Rumi smiles, tilts his head back and talks into his empty glass, now megaphone for the moment. "I beg to differ, my good man, this place is not closed. It is open! If it were closed we would not be here. Open it is, I say! Wide open! Like the Red Sea, like a window on a summer night, like the eyes of a young man upon seeing the most beautiful woman in the world walk across the room, her body the perfect mix of spirit and flesh. Open, I say, like a book, like the sky, like the heart of one not yet disappointed in the ways of human love. Go about your business, friend, and leave us here, two happy hieroglyphs of love."
"We have a perfect game on Lane 23," intones a disembodied voice over the PA system "A perfect game!"
Rumi and Kabir pull over another chair, pour another drink and beckon to the man in the starched white uniform, many keys dangling from his belt.
"Good friend, come closer, come drink with us. Come now! The night is still young."
Mitch Ditkoff straddles two worlds -- the world of business and the world of poetry. By day, he is the co-founder and president of Idea Champions, an innovation consulting and training company serving a wide variety of leading organizations. By night, he is a poet. His mission is to infuse his corporate work with the sensibilities of the poetic mind. His new poetry book, Full Moon at Sunrise (Soul Garden Press), has just been published. Excerpts here.