This Iraqi greeting can open your mind and make you wiser

It’s great to talk straight. But life is complex, and logical articulations can often be inadequate, failing to express existence’s vastness, mysteries, and possibilities.

In Iraq—the cradle of civilization—this notion is familiar. Perhaps that’s why people often greet one another with a perplexing question that can work like a Zen koan to open the mind. The Iraqi equivalent of “what’s up?”—shaku maku—asks: What is everything and nothing?

In the seeming senselessness of...

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