Letters to Tom — Be What We Do

Authors note: If you are one of many who have written asking  about information on Sufism, or asked to learn more about Tom himself, I commend to you Tom’s comment to the post on Love Dogs. We continue today discussing Rumi’s poetry, let’s hope Tom gives us some insight here as well.

Dear Tom:

In an untitled poem attributed to Rumi he begins:

                Today like every other day, we wake up empty

                And frightened. Don’t open the door to the study

                And begin reading. Take down a musical instrument.


                Let the beauty we love be what we do.

                There are a hundred ways to kneel and kiss the ground.


I love the phrase, “Let the beauty we love be what we do.” It expresses a sense of completeness that we have when we work on something we love. I had such a feeling when I was on the Court. I believe it is something we all strive to obtain with varying degrees of success. I am trying now to recapture that sense of wholeness. I can’t return to the Court, but as Rumi says, “There are a hundred ways….”

That said, the image I focus on today is the awakening empty and frightened. Rumi counsels to take down the musical instrument. I remember listening to Kelley working through her teenaged anxieties by playing the piano. She would come upstairs after such a session with a look of total peace.  I have had friends who instinctively knew that they needed to pick up the guitar, the violin, or simply bang on the drums until they had worked through their loneliness or fears. I notice now that many athletes wear headphones or ear pieces listening to music before the game or event. Do you think that is what Rumi meant or perhaps he is saying something else? What about those poor souls like me who have a tin ear, and no ability to even play the harmonica? Perhaps, Rumi would answer my question by saying. There are many ways to make music and an instrument is but one, “There are a hundred ways….”

Your Friend, Webb

About the author

Webb Hubbell is the former Associate Attorney General of The United States. His novels, When Men Betray, Ginger Snaps, A Game of Inches, The Eighteenth Green, and The East End are published by Beaufort Books and are available online or at your local bookstore. When Men Betray won one of the IndieFab awards for best novel in 2014. Ginger Snaps and The Eighteenth Green won the IPPY Awards Gold Medal for best suspense/thriller. His latest, “Light of Day” will be on the bookstands soon.


  1. Webb,
    I love that Rumi quote! And it reminds me of a quote from Gandhi: “Be the change you wish to see in the world.” The other side of those two quotes is that space that is all to familiar to most of us – the “not good enough”, “not lovable”, “looking stupid” part of us that holds us back, keeps us tied in knots, limits who we can become. And, of course, that person is the creation of our ego, a force that tries to protect us from getting hurt, from failing and is based on the perceptions of our very young childhood.

    I’m reading a book, Awakening”, by a Sufi, Pir Vilayat Inayat Khan. He says “the ego is a false notion of what we are. ….(M)ost of us, as we struggle through life, attempt to derive our strength solely from our self-image as a separate ego — a source of weakness that ultimately compounds our problems. … (T)here is a tendency to fall back on the ego, resorting to its inadequate strategies of defenses, denial, or wishful thinking.”

    I am working literally every day –sometimes more effectively than others– to calm the ego through a set of spiritual practices, readings, setting intentions, being on my breath, and being in service. I turn 70 in a couple weeks, and you’d think I’d have figured this out by now… ooops, that was my sneaky ego….


  2. Dad – I really enjoy this post. I especially love the quote that you highlighted, but I also focused on “Don’t open the study and read a book, play a musical instrument.” I think this challenges the reader to do something different than their normal routine. A study is not just for reading, but for studying something that you love. I think the Sufi writer is encouraging us to use our space to do something that we love in one hundred different ways, and to fill our emptiness with love as well.

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