Joy Is Your Sorrow Unmasked

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Be brave enough to be happy” read a stranger’s post on Pinterest. The quote plays perfectly in tune with my thoughts this morning.

Years ago skiing in Vail, I saw a sweatshirt inscribed with “No guts, no glory. No pain, no gain.” For the longest I kept those words mentally filed only under physical ability and achievement.

Time has tempered my thinking to know that courage and an openness to endure discomfort is most important with my feelings. The majority of my emotional weakness of old times is gone. Hurt goes no less deep when it comes, but I fully realize now that a willingness to openly accept the painful is what allows the full range of its mirror reflection, joy.

In the “Prophet” Kahlil Gibran wrote:
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.
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.
Verily you are suspended like scales
between your sorrow and your joy.

Occasions arise when I am overwhelmed with the sheer magnitude of my feelings. What a gift to be that passionately alive! Emotions long-buried awakened bring great pain paid back with interest, but also a full magnitude of joy that rides by its side.

I used to be so afraid,
Sometimes crippled;
Worry and anxiety held me back.
The fear remains, but
My courage is strong.
Good or bad,
joy or pain,
With open arms
I embrace the fullness of it all,
The best life ever lived,
Was filled with great happiness
And lots of heartache and grief;
No life has ever been better.
To know the full joy
I openly accept pain that comes.
Whatever arrives in my path,
I welcome
With gratitude and anticipation.

There is enormous benefit to being well along into middle age before emotionally getting it together and finding balance. Feeling this much, this deeply can break some people, but it can also enliven a person’s being beyond what one might dare to imagine. There is a concentration of emotion within me focused like light through a magnifying glass that allows me to gratefully know the richness from side to side and top to bottom. With sadness on one mountain and joy on the other I live in the valley of hopes and dreams between.

What would you like to do?
From the 1987 movie “Made In Heaven”