I've been thinking this week that the universe is sexy...I mean look at the tulips, the stars, the hints of pink in the night sky, the melancholic sparkle of the sun. Everywhere I look lately, I see a kind of softness taking root. There's a sense that the tree branches have a touch of whimsy, a touch of play. Something is shifting inside of me. It's hard to take things as seriously anymore. Not that I don't care about the things that matter...I've just arrived at a question mark in my life, a question mark that likes to act like a comedian sometimes--a question mark that is impacting how I write poetry as well. My work is getting more experimental and more surreal---less concerned with answering a question and more concerned with mirroring the randomness of life. Is life so tragic it's comic, or is comedy the only possible response to tragedy? I'm sort of curious about the relationship between comedy and tragedy. I'm also feeling like it's hard for me to connect with people who take themselves and the world too seriously. And yet I was once a religious studies major taking myself too seriously, was considering a ph.d. in the study of God. And now I think God, actually, has more a sense of humor than I once thought...and he can be bawdy...at times ridiculous. What if you wake up one day to discover that you don't recognize yourself? What is the point of existence, of stumbling through each successive day...are we meant to understand something in particular? Every time I come back to these simple truths: we are here to witness...we are here to express our uniqueness...we are here to laugh. I have been fixated lately on the absurdity of human experience (and I don't mean absurd as in pointless, just absurd as in random). Yet there is the presence of magic that cannot be denied...yet I sense something bigger and wider than it all...yet there are moments of deep connections with beauty that are so overpowering I find my thoughts become ethereal. I was raised Muslim in a Christian country...I have studied Buddhism, Judaism, and Hinduism with a sense of fellowship. It's hard for me to belong to one tradition alone, and yet we, as humans, need to be grounded somewhere. For me this groundedness is present in literature, teaching, poetry, God, and the people I've gathered around me in this world. For me this groundedness occurs to opening up to the contradictions and embracing them. I find it in the willingness to love and take risks. I think it's most important to cultivate a sense of confidence and trust---to surrender to the world's randomness and mystery...to encourage surrender.