Only When You Are Empty Are You At Standstill & Balanced

November 13, 2020

I was reminded of the mastery of the poet Khalil Gibran who talks about the human experience in a timeless, true and deeply poignant way. This poem is speaking to me right now as I have been in full exploration of all of my emotions and giving space and honor and love for all of them to breathe and be seen, as clunky as they can be.

To feel safe enough to share our deepest emotions which include fear, shame, sadness, sorrow out loud, along with joy, excitement, passion, is so brave to me, especially living in a society where the more “negative” feelings are not welcome and even vilified.

AND, to be on the receiving end of those feelings and to be able to understand and support and hold space for those “tougher” feelings is even more brave to me.

(Important distinction: We don’t want to overdo it where we are always sharing our fears and shame and sadness and sorrow because then we are forgetting the holy shitness of being alive and it becomes an energy drain over time to spend time with but it’s important to have the space to talk about and release for sure!)

When I read this poem out loud, and slowly, tears immediately began flowing down my cheeks because of its truth. Here is the poem on Joy and Sorrow:

“Then a woman said, Speak to us of Joy and Sorrow.
And he answered:
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.

Only when you are empty are you at standstill and balanced.

When the treasure-keeper lifts you to weigh his gold and his silver, needs must your joy or your sorrow rise or fall.”

– Khalil Gibran