Sunday, August 15, 2010

First Five of Anything (5th Day of Ramzan)

"Most people are against books on writing on principle. So am I. It's ridiculous to set down rules when it comes to art. Most of the truly great artists have broken all the rules, and this is precisely what has made them great. What would have become of Beethoven's music if he's chased rules instead of inspiration - of van Gogh's paintings?" From "The First Five Pages: A Writer's Guide to Staying Out of the Rejection Pile" and then author goes on to passionately talk about crafting those "first five pages" and those "first five lines" as well. (This book by Noah Lukeman is one I'm reading with a vengeance several times over.)

Suddenly, it's occurring to me to also watch my first five lines - written or craft them a little - care to communicate just a little better.

Sometimes lately I'm also looking at poetry - often a more natural skill of mine - to see where the beginning works.

Look at these first five lines of Rumi here

"Ants Watching a Pen Writing"

Alexander the Great went toward Qaf Mountain
and saw that it was made of pure emerald
and that it had become a ring surrounding the world,
and he was amazed at the immensity
of God's creation...

There are lots of other "First Fives" to consider - first five of a newly-becoming person's words, first five words of a joke to catch the listener; first five ingredients of a recipe; a grocery list (in case you run out of money? :)

What about considering who are your most rewarding five friends - the ones you'd like to keep around all your life? What are the five nurturing gifts of self you might offer such life blessings?

And since I'm often way to wordy, I'm working diligently on the "First Five" words trying to get a loved one's attention. Or a child's. How about the "First Five Years" we spent together with beloved ones? How might a little remembrance with one another about those early years as lovers, partners, friends, parent and child refresh our experience now?

What about the "First Five Centuries" of history? Or the last five? Or the first five years of a nation's democracy? Or of independence? What do we envision for the next five centuries, years, days, hours?

Or how about the most influential five books for you?

What about considering "Five Images" ? The first five you know you love around your home, in your garden, memory?

The number of pages, lines, images, years, words, memories doesn't matter really...for me, it's about learning how to define, select down, stick to a format.
Yet for me, the "First Five on Anything" is working well. Later, another number will be best. How do you choose artfully your few anything? What number works for you?

The very first five lines of "The Cow" in the Quran go like this:

"...This Book is not to be doubted. It is a guide for the righteous, who believe in the unseen and are steadfast in prayer; who give alms (from what God gave...); who believe in what has been revealed to you and what was revealed before you, and have absolute faith in the life to come."

And today I want especially to consider those few engaging lines as well as the "First Five Days" of Ramzan 2010 - what have I learned personally? What are we learning across our communities? How will I apply these impressions, reflections to my relationships, prayers, my single solitary life?

Photo of lilies from internet cache (just put in "five water lilies")


urooj malik said...

Connie, you again put a beautiful reflection. First five elements in every thing of the Universe are important and you mentioned it so beautifully on the Fifth of Ramadan.

Thank you so much.

Thinking said...

hmm....I imagined myself listening a kind of sermon Dear Connie while reading your post...

You are doing a very diffeent job nowadays...yesterday or day before it was Hafiz and now this post...

hmm...thank yo so much...brilliant post....thanks !

Akhtar Wasim Dar said...

An interesting topic, Five, is the number of prayers each day Muslims offer! Different people consider different numbers, that they think significant for them, I have liking for number three, no special reason, it just comes naturally to me. Many years ago a friend of mine who was my teacher in many ways told me that basically there are only five numbers and other numbers including zero are the supplementary numbers of first five numbers. His explanation was this:

1 : 6
2 : 7
3 : 8
4 : 9
5 : 0

He believed that 1 and 6 are same, 2 and 7 are same and so forth. 1 is the number of creator, 2 of creation, 3 of time, 4 of space and 5 of infinity.

Since I personally more attuned with number 3 I would like to quote first three lines of one of my favorite novel, THE ROAD by Cormac McCarthy:

“When he woke in the woods in the dark and the cold of the night he’d reached out to touch the child sleeping beside him. Nights dark beyond darkness and the days more gray each one than that had gone before. Like the onset of some cold glaucoma dimming away the world.”

Connie L. Nash said...

So nice you came by today. Well, if any kind of sermon, Thinking, it is to self first - yet really want to style it as less of one next time :)

Guess I'm a bit obsessed with my first five pages of a new project.

Hope to get back to RR tomorrow :)

Urooj, do you prefer to use Ramadan instead of Ramzan?

Friendship & Gratitude to you each...

Namrah Mahmood said...

oh what a thought provoking post! :)
'The first five sentences of a novel, first five of a newly-becoming person's words, first five words of a joke to catch the listener; first five ingredients of a recipe' in a way gives one an idea of whats coming next, e.g of the pattern of someone's speech.

and what an idea it is to observe the 'First fives' as we can learn so much by observing these, something which we otherwise tend to ignore!
Thanks for sharing such a wonderful post Connie!!

Connie L. Nash said...

Dar Sahib, You must have been writing this just as I was responding to Urooj and Thinking! Nice to cross oceans at the same time.

Wow, don't know how I how I could fail to note the number of prayers each day Muslims offer! And although I tend to practice the "prayer without ceasing" injunction, I really do want to make a practice of the 5 times a day.

Also, your mention of your friend's understanding that "there are only five numbers and other numbers including zero are the supplementary numbers of first five numbers is highly interesting!" I think I'll write this down to discuss with family who are suddenly into numbers...

Yet I can't yet get my sometimes frustrating brain around such different numbers being "the same"? In what way are they the same?

Those lines you quote are densely evocative - if quite somber...well, would like to consider the three lines and reflect on them...the fact that a child is there brings some sense of purpose and light into the glaucoma dimmed world at least as a constant prompt for purposeful living and courage, perhaps...

Connie L. Nash said...

Namrah, I am glad to see your name here and that you liked the post, and saw the applications so clearly! Skimming your interesting looking post from the 13th, I sure do want to visit soon. Alas, a family birthday party at home now to prepare.

urooj malik said...

Connie, I do not prefer to say Ramadan instead of Ramzan but this red line that appears on writing Ramzan i hate it therefore i sometimes write the words in which i do not have to see those lines.

Connie L. Nash said...

Glad you told me, Urooj, I did not know there was a red-line. Does it show when I send out as well?

Connie L. Nash said...

Just re-discovered end of my day/early my am three more "5's":

So let me add:

The "5" umbrella of a group of highly intellectual/well-read quiet leaders on the Enneagram who are great guides for our time in that they observe well, can do with little, have rich inner and private life, who want facts. They can see through flattery and into the dangers of some charismatic leaders. They also can be extremely productive when isolated and protected from unnecessary and overly-distracting, overly-emotional interactions and pettiness or "busy" work.

Two more "fives" I missed yesterday coming next two comments...

Connie L. Nash said...

Two more Five's which came to mind before I ended my 5th Day of Ramzan:

"The Five Love Languages" (or the 5 languages of love) - I have not studied this approach to enhancing relationship yet it looks helpful.

Finally: I ran across Aquinas' Five arguments for God's existence. Again, which would need study on my part to be conversant...