“I walked a mile with Sorrow”
I walked a mile with Pleasure;
She chatted all the way;
But left me none the wiser
For all she had to say.
I walked a mile with Sorrow,
And ne’er a word said she;
But, oh! The things I learned from her,
When sorrow walked with me.
-Robert Browning Hamilton
What develops character and strength in a person? Is it found in the beauty of the times of light, in which the sun shines the brightest? No, as I’ve found, sometimes the sunshine, too, has its ability to burn when you’ve allowed too much of it into your life. I’m a lucky woman. I’ve had the opportunity to walk, hand-in-hand with Pleasure for miles. She gave me the gift of a life on a filmstrip—vivid, brightly colored images depicting fond memories, episodes of laughter and loving, tender moments.
But in the last few years, I took Sorrow by the hand and trudged along her dreary pathway. The result? While the dark pain of my journey with Sorrow inflicted scars onto my delicate skin, the path left me a stronger, more vivacious version of me that I ever imagined I could be. Pleasure gave me only that—simple pleasure, but she did not allow me the opportunity to scrape together the pieces of myself and find a voice within. My journey through pain and darkness reminds me of an Elizabeth Gilbert quote:
“When you’re lost in those woods, it sometimes takes you a while to realize that you are lost. For the longest time, you can convince yourself that you’ve just wandered off the path, that you’ll find your way back to the trailhead any moment now. Then night falls again and again, and you still have no idea where you are, and its time to admit that you have bewildered yourself so far off the path that you don’t even know from which direction the sun rises anymore.”
The beauty of my path with Sorrow was in realizing I never need the sun in the first place. I didn’t need to follow the direction of the sun, I needed to follow the beating sound of my own heart and feel the strength found in my own backbone to find a true light, a lasting pleasure. The genius of being able to stand on your own and face the world alone is a strength, delight and dream all mixed exquisitely into one amazing package. Sorrow brought out a light from inside me I never knew existed, a passion I never knew was hidden under the surface. Without the cold feeling of the darkness, I would never feel the inviting warmth of the sun. Sure, I will always be a silly, dreamy-eyed girl with big passions and even bigger insecurities, but I am me, and it’s OK. Sometimes, it’s OK to sit in the dark with Sorrow, and sometimes it’s even better to take her by the hand and walk with her a mile or two—you never know what beauty waits for you in the darkness of the journey.