I had just finished a deeply satisfying and very well received full-day workshop, which I presented with InspireCorps, followed by dinner with a new coaching client. I returned to my hotel room full of enthusiasm and energy from my adventures to phone home. The day’s report included a tale of my son’s unfortunate altercation that ended in injury. The air quickly departed my much-inflated balloon before I got to share my story with pride. This led me to thinking about how one might hold both exhilaration and sadness/upset/concern at the same time rather than simply have the latter dominate the former.full_glass_empty_glass

To play with the hackneyed metaphor, when one glass is full and another empty, what do you have? I tend to fluctuate between the optimist’s and the realist’s view (you could use a smaller glass). Yet I often find “bad news” to cast a nearly impenetrable shadow on the good. As I was contemplating the topic of this blog, I received horrific news about a friend’s child being hit by a car and killed. My connection to that profoundly deep pain permeates the good moments.

I do believe that there are evolutionary reasons why our minds are drawn to solve problems and we need strategies to savor our joys and direct ourselves toward positivity. As I have yet to find resolution for ambivalence on steroids, perhaps the best answer is with the poet, Kahlil Gibran, who gives us potent both/ands in his book “Tears and Laughter” and his poem “On Joy and Sorrow.”

“I would not exchange the laughter of my heart for the fortunes of the multitudes; nor would I be content with converting my tears, invited by my agonized self, into calm.  It is my fervent hope that my whole life on this earth will ever be tears and laughter.  Tears that purify my heart and reveal to me the secret of life and its mystery, Laughter that brings me closer to my fellow men; Tears with which I join the broken-hearted, Laugher that symbolizes joy over my very existence.”

On Joy and Sorrow – Kahlil Gibran
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.

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