“Watch out for each other. Love everyone and forgive everyone, including yourself. Forgive your anger. Forgive your guilt. Your shame. Your sadness. Embrace and open up your love, your joy, your truth, and most especially your heart.” ― Jim Henson
Joy and Shame
The voice of Joy and Shame,
Forever call my name.
I hear their pleading day and night,
Step from the shadows into the light.
Come to me, the voice calls;
One rises, the other falls.
The touch of Joy, a fleeting game,
The rival player, a crying Shame.
I love them both, I cannot choose;
Side-by-side, they play my Muse;
At the end, I turn away,
They’ll be back another day.
Neither hopes to ever win;
But, they know; I’ll play again.
It strikes me that joy surrounds us. Joy is found in every aspect of our lives, there is no end to its source. The beauty of our physical world calls to us from every corner of the globe; the azure skies, a wisp of cloud, or a garden scene. We only need look. In the darkest corner of the bleakest Hell hole, some small wonder can capture our heart and uplift us for one fleeting moment and sometimes it is all that’s needed. Joy is fleeting. It comes and goes, mostly goes, not often comes. I ask myself, if joy is in such abundance, why is it so fleeting, so hard to hold onto sometimes. I answer my question when I realize that abundance can lower the value of anything. It is good that this salvation we find in love, family, connections, and our lives is so fleeting. Like a single rose growing in a darkened sunless shadow, joy returns a moment of life to us.
Shame is equally pervasive. Like joy, it lives in our world at every turn of the head. We make decisions that lead us directly to it. Often, in a mad dash to capture joy, flitting by like a sunlit butterfly, we fall in shame. Shame is not fleeting. It grows in our minds and in our hearts, a cumulative thing with roots that spread and find delightful nutrients in those dark corners of our mind, in memories we can’t erase. We poison our shame with drugs, alcohol, and acting out. We know if we kill our minds and stop our hearts that shame can’t live, nor can we.
Live with your shame. I hear and read these words from time to time. Odd as it seems, it is the secret that leads us to a greater life. When we fail and shame takes root we are imbued with an emotion that drives a melancholy, the greatest muse mankind has ever known. Melancholy is the energy of great poets, famous artists, the giants of literature. How can this be? From this melancholy, those fleeting moments of joy, when found, unlocks the greatest moments of our lives. In those fleeting moments of joy, we are never more alive because now we know the true value of it.
Live with your melancholy and rejoice in those moments of fleeting joy. Let your muse unwind the greatness in your soul and shine your light no matter how short. You’ll play again someday.