Shaking the Dust in a Dusty World

For the December blog, I wanted to share something a bit more personal, my very favorite poem “Shake the Dust” by Anis Mojgani:

That poem was brought to my attention on February 24, 2015; it was featured in one of Mat Kearney’s songs from his new album, Just Kids. “Shake the dust,” it said. “Shake the dust.” That phrase echoed through my mind. It could mean a hundred different things depending on what perspective you choose to look at it with. I suppose that is the purpose of art itself, but every question you have about it has a simple answer: shake the dust. For reasons I don’t understand, things and people generally appear in our lives at the most perfectly inopportune times; this poem did just that. It means so much to me that it is hard to put it into words. Plain and simple: it’s beautiful.

What can I write that could equate to the beauty of the poem itself? How does a person “shake the dust?” It seems so simple, those three little words, but it is not: it takes courage, trust, and drive. Everybody carries their own burdens and struggles, but those struggles don’t have to define you as a person. Life doesn’t judge people so much by their struggles, but rather what they do to overcome them. Breaking the invisible bonds that stop you from trying new things, going places, meeting people, and living boldly, well, that takes bundles of courage. Rising above your struggles doesn’t require an enormous life change, but the boldness to live a life of integrity that makes you proud. Secondly, it takes trust. Trust in where life will take you, but, first and foremost, trust in yourself to live a life of integrity. Finally, “shaking the dust” requires drive. It’s simple to live a routine life that makes you comfortable, but too often people aren’t satisfied. In order to take charge of your journey, you have to be driven and motivated by the potential of a more fulfilling life, both for yourself and for those around you.

What makes it so unique is that it speaks to every type of person, encouraging and letting them know that they possess infinite potential. I believe that whether or not we employ ourselves and rise above our struggles, shaking the dust, well, that is up to us. Mojgani illustrates a verisimilar portrait of suppressed emotion that he manages to capture in four minutes: an ineffable feeling of excitement, but not knowing the cause of it. These portraits of humankind speak to so many identities that everyone can connect to one or multiple aspects, regardless of their circumstance: race, religion, or socioeconomic class. So together, let’s shake the dust.


So when the world knocks at your front door

Clutch the knob tightly and open on up

And run forward and far into its widespread, greeting arms

With your hands outstretched before you

Fingertips trembling, though they may be.”




2 thoughts on “Shaking the Dust in a Dusty World”

  1. You seem to have taken this man’s words to heart. I imagine he would be happy to read this post. After all, he says “this is for you,” and you believe him. As it happens, I heard him say this poem in person at The BAY School of San Francisco. A colleague, who is also the poet’s cousin, invited him to say some of his poems to the students. This poem was one of the pieces he did for us. I am happy to hear it again, and just as happy that you have taken it to heart.


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