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Joy and Sorrow

December 20, 2006

My roommate and I just had a very strange exchange. We realized that Christmas was in four days. In four days, I’ll wake up from my still-jet-lagged sleep and walk downstairs and my mom will make tea while we’re waiting for Grandpa to drive to the house and it will be the end of the 2006.

What? Where did time go?I’m generally having a hard time summing up my experience in Cairo, so I figured I’d get somebody else to say one way of how I’m going to react to coming home, to leaving a strange country I’ve lived in. Khalil Gibran, the only poet I remember from my Literature class. From The Prophet, a series of prose poems centering around one character’s journey:

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 hold 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.

Two more finals. Two more days. Part of my mind has already left, and yet I know when I get back, part of me will still be back in Cairo.

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