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Last night, I organized my bookshelf.
I stumbled across The Prophet by Kahlil Gibran, and I felt like rereading a few pages.
I randomly opened the book and stumbled upon the chapter “On Joy and Sorrow.” No matter how much I keep rereading this chapter, its significance and depth never cease.
I had many epiphanies the first time I read The Prophet, but there were a few chapters that jolted me awake—“On Joy and Sorrow” was one of them.
It brought me so much clarity and understanding, and it changed the way I perceived happiness. Like most of us, I separated joy from sorrow.
I pursued joy, but I always avoided sorrow. And whenever I fell into the trap of agony, I’d give myself a hard time for not feeling pure, utter bliss.
How true is that? Are we genuinely living life to the fullest when we accept one side of the coin but reject the other? Is happiness separate from sadness? Do they not come from the same source?
Gibran eloquently tells us that our emotions are inseparable. In fact, they complement each other—we can’t have one without the other.
It brought me solace to know that duality only exists in my own mind. Gibran puts it this way,
“When you are joyous, look deep into your heart and you shall find it is only that which has given you sorrow that is giving you joy.”
The same situation that makes us happy today can make us miserable tomorrow. Life and people are unpredictable, and they’re in constant fluctuation. We need to make peace with the fact that we are a bundle of emotions that can be triggered at any moment, at any day.
Let’s not favor only one—we must favor both.
“The deeper that sorrow carves into your being, the more joy you can contain.
Is not the cup that holds your wine the very cup that was burned in the potter’s oven?
And is not the lute that soothes your spirit, the very wood that was hollowed with knives?
When you are joyous, look deep into your heart and you shall find it is only that which has given you sorrow that is giving you joy.
When you are sorrowful look again in your heart, and you shall see that in truth you are weeping for that which has been your delight.
Some of you say, “Joy is greater than sorrow,” and others say, “Nay, sorrow is the greater.”
But I say unto you, they are inseparable.
Together they come, and when one sits alone with you at your board, remember that the other is asleep upon your bed.”
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