“Joy and sorrow are inseparable... together they come and when one sits with you... remember that the other is asleep upon your bed.”
— Kahlil Gibran (1883–1931)
This is the tantalising thing about life. We neither want to die nor do we want to be alive. Let me put that into context. We want to live forever, yet there is pain in life; in merely existing. If we live at truth, we hold both realities in tension for the whole of our lives. In our joy we are never short of the possibility of sorrow. And in our sorrow we know that the hand of joy reaches out in surprising ways.
Both joy and sorrow are companions of the heart—never too far from our felt experience.
The Challenge Is Enjoying the Tension
If we can do nothing about the coherence of joy and sorrow within our practice of life, we are blessed to do whatever we can to enjoy living in the tension between the two.
Having accepted that joy and sorrow are equal partners in our experience of life, we ensure a balanced approach to life where the highs are not taken to ecstatically and the lows don’t defeat us. A middle-ground maturity is available. This is the effective life.
Living in this middle-ground experience, which has access to both joy and sorrow in safe proportion, our perception and perspective are enhanced. We have more freedom to move when we can go deep in sorrow and go high in joy.
When we enjoy the tension between joy and sorrow—having the plain and accepted access to both without either ego or resentment—we have one of the keys to life.
How Do We Get There?
If we have read the above and believe it was possible, it may still be a mystery how we can reach the acceptance of both joy and sorrow together, in symphony.
It is a practiced thing. It is a thing of surrender before God; that our perception of our experience would line up with the experience itself. This is all God wants of us—to live truthfully according to the realities we are exposed to. It’s all we can do.
We can take great joy—beyond thoughts of joy and sorrow together—in knowing that God is with us no matter what. In addition, we are at our best when we take our joys humbly and we accept our sorrows courageously.
When we can take our joy and sorrow as they come, knowing one follows the other around, our perspective for life is fitted to whatever reality may come.
© 2012 S. J. Wickham.