Joy & Pain

A while ago I had a dream that was possibly the most vivid and influential dream I’ve ever had. I was on a path, just a little way up a hill and had 2 choices of which way to go. Before me was a reasonable climb upwards, although I couldn’t see the end I knew that it would take me where I wanted to go and could tell that it was a blue sky ahead and clear path (apart from a rather odd sheep, but he seemed friendly enough). The other way was down through a forest, it was dark and forboding and even though I could tell it probably held many dangers, I also knew it would lead me to the same place eventually. The choice of which path to take might seem like an obvious one but there were many factors to think about. Would I come out stronger if I took the forest? Would I be missing out on an adventure, or was I just being a pussy if I took the climb? Did I deserve to take the clear path?

After a little while I realised that they both led to exactly the same place. I also knew that I’d spent time in previous dark forests and wasn’t a major fan so why should I want to carry on that way when the view would obviously be much better from the top of the hill, so that was the way I went.

Take from that what you will but I’ve certainly been a fairly happy person since then and even though it would be a lie to say I’ve never been down or taken a little stroll into the forest from time to time, it never feels like I have to carry on through there for too long and I can always remember the way I’m supposed to be going. Such detours can also give me an added sense of purpose and appreciation too. I was reminded today of a verse from Khalil Gibran’s excellent written work, The Prophet. I only read it recently for the first time and wish I could recall all the passages at will as there are some beautifully written words of wisdom but it was a good excuse to pick it up again.

Your joy is your sorrow unmasked.
And the selfsame well from which your laughter rises was oftentimes filled with your tears.
And how else can it be?
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.

Kahlil Gibran (The Prophet)

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