11/12/2014 05:52 pm ET Updated Jan 12, 2015

Joy Out of Sorrow

I've been thinking a great deal about life as of late, my own and in general. And I've come to the conclusion that in order to know great joy one will, or maybe even must, know great sorrow. This is not an original concept. Spiritual teachers and poets alike have been ruminating on this subject for centuries. It comes back to the very concept of balance. There's something universal in that.
We are well aware of the notion that in order to really find great happiness, bliss, and fulfillment, we have to put ourselves out there, take risks, be vulnerable. These things are fundamental human necessities in relationships with one another and in the way in which we live our lives.

And yet, we spend a great deal of time trying to protect ourselves. We close ourselves off to those around us, even to our own deepest bouts of introspection and self-reflection. It's safer that way. We so fear getting hurt in any capacity, that we think it is better simply not to engage, not to put ourselves in the line of fire. Anyone who has suffered great pain or sorrow understands why it's easier not to allow ourselves to be in a position to go through it again.

But if we're constantly keeping ourselves safe, exercising this concept of self-preservation, then we are also closing ourselves off. We are not letting ourselves fully experience life in community with others. This is a tragedy.

Being vulnerable is never easy. I've had my fair share of poorly ending attempts to put myself out there in a variety of situations. I've certainly felt the terrible and terribly destructive repercussions of those acts of faith in myself and in others I may meet. But I wouldn't trade those sad situations for not trying in the first place. When we go too far, protect ourselves so fully that we'll never get hurt quite so deeply, we'll never really experience the flip side.

I want great joy in my life. I want monumental bliss, the overall moving of mountains when I give a piece of myself away to a trustworthy companion and reap the benefits of such an interaction. So, I will suffer through my sorrows and my disappointments when my leaps with both feet land me in a puddle too deep to wade across, and I have to swim to shore. But those lasting relationships I've formed in this place of vulnerability, will be my lifeboat, sink or swim, and I will know joy again.