Last weekend I was bored. I was super bored, up to a level that I was literally trying to escape from everything. This weekend I am feeling really good. It’s really nice weather outside here. I am in the new Starbucks coffeeshop near our campus. I love the new atmosphere in this coffee shop. The old one was really small and congested, the new one is wide and feels having more room. It’s interesting how space makes us feel. The feeling of wideness and narrowness I mean! And I am thinking about ups and downs of life. May be I have some obsession with playing with my feelings ;). The ups and downs are so common, but still every time you are in the down side, you hate being there. On the other hand, the ups are the ones you want to sustain. How to really get used to with your failures? Some failures are just hard to accept as you firmly believe that you could have done better. It’s that your laziness and lack of conscious thoughts in the moment just ruined it for you. But then no physical event should really define your potential, but it’s just hard to reconcile. My friend Adil gave me a book. It’s “The Prophet” by Kahlil Gibran. Reading Gibran is such a delight. I am reading page 29 on Joy and Sorrow. The chapter starts with
Then a woman said, Speak to us of Joy and Sorrow. And he answered: Your joy is your sorrow unmasked.
There really is no hard line between joy and sorrow. But as human being, we know we feel; We feel joy and we feel sorrow. And we don’t want sorrow for ourselves, we only want joy. Because it just feels good being joyous. But the natural world, the unconscious everything doesn’t have the least concern about how we feel, what we want. Should we call the nature ruthless then because it doesn’t care us at all? So, it’s on us how we can feel, what we can feel. But feeling the power within yourself is not that easy. Well, that doesn’t mean it’s impossible.
The deeper that sorrow carves into your being, the more joy you can contain.
Frankly I have a feeling that I understand this sentence, but do I really? I am doubtful, may be because you can never appropriately measure the depth of your sorrow or your joy. When you are in misery, like when you lose your closest one, or you fail in something you deeply desired for, the sorrow just feels endless, when you are in the joyous state, like making love with your sweetest one, like sitting beside your mother and listen how you used to be when you were young with some disbelief, the joy you feel is just unimaginable. Every time it’s new, because it’s a new moment.
Is not the cup that holds your wine the vey 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.
Gibran talks about how inseparable joy and sorrow is. He denies the superiority of one over the other. He brings some metaphor like a cup or a lute and how they stand with both of the sides- the harsh and the mild. He asks us to be introspective, to see our heart like a dual being observing its other self standing nearby.
We are always thinking. And if I look at my own thoughts, they are so sporadic. It takes some effort to linearize my thoughts. It requires concentration to steadily and critically think about a single topic. It may be a very important neuro – scientific question why and how we evolved to be like this. A broad answer may be that millions of our early evolutionary past, all we thought and cared about is our survival in the wild. But were we not more focussed than what we are now? What I mean is – when you are running away from a danger or chasing down an animal or heavy lifting or climbing, those normally require intense focus. It can easily be said that when we didn’t know how to read or write, those were our primary activities. Did we then used to live in the present more than how we live our life now? In our modern lives (last few centuries) through urbanization, through industrial, scientific, academic revolution, we brought more stability in managing our resources, properties. We live more in our mind now that we live outside I guess. But this is a big claim? Isn’t it? And probably it’s just not very easy to prove it. Our modern activities have changed, moved from high physical labor to low physical labor tasks, require more mental activities, because we learnt through imagination we can touch the infinite. It’s a huge dilemma, isn’t it? If I understand the mechanism of joy and sorrow, I know that these emotion are deeply attached with your connection with your presence in the world. But then we know that only through imagination, prediction of future and inference of the past, we can enjoy the unknowns. Both are true and so is the struggle in the mind. I will just end with the last sentence in the chapter by Gibran.
When the treasure-keeper lifts you to weigh his gold and his silver, needs must your joy or your sorrow rise or fall.
And I am now watching this to add more spice to my burning mind-oven.