The Neurotic Duck (by Arlene Ducao)

The Neurotic Duck (by Arlene Ducao)

Arlene DucaoThe Neurotic Duck (February 13, 2007) I first came across Rumi in the discount section of Barnes and Noble — a Coleman Barks' anthology of his work. As an artist and an undisciplined spiritual seeker, I fell in love with this work that was bawdy, funny, visually vivid, and forgiving. It was the first time I realized that the absurd experience of the everyday can be a spiritual awakening if viewed with the right lens, a lens like Rumi's. My first readings of Rumi roughly coincided with moving to NYC, which came roughly a year after 9/11, which also was roughly the time that I began to experience chronic insomnia and anxiety. I came to NYC to attend art school, and Rumi played a key role in helping me get through that anxious time, and making a thesis project that reflected my tumultuous experience in the city. The central text of this project was from Rumi's poem about the four birds living in every person that keeps her/him from loving: - the crow of ownership - the rooster of lust - the peacock of wanting to be famous - the duck of urgency The poem then proceeds to focus on that neurotic duck, always searching, its bill never still, worrying that there's no time! It was interesting to find these birds again later, in reading the work of Rumi's father, Bahuddin. I wonder if the four birds are a longstanding image in Sufi poetry? Arlene Ducao Brooklyn, NY (WNYC, 93.9 FM)

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is professor of Persian & Comparative Literature at Washington University in St. Louis, and the author of several books, including Reading Mystical Lyric: The Case of Jalal aI-Din Rumi.