Have you ever heard the expression A sorrow shared is halved, a joy shared is doubled? Yeah, I had to sit on that one for awhile. I heard that expression and I found myself thinking, how is sorrow like a piece of cake? Does that mean if I eat a big ass piece of cake, I’ll be sorry due to an ensuing belly ache, but if I each half as much cake, I’ll only suffer half the amount of intestinal distress?
Don’t throw these little axioms my way as I am bound to overthink them.
I eventually absorbed the meaning of the first half of the expression. The other half seems quite self-evident to me. Even in its apparent obviousness it’s something I seem to forget at times.
How often do we use the statement overflowing with joy? There are occasions we feel such ebullience we can barely contain it, that it goes sloshing over the container of our emotional reservoirs to stain our grandmother’s crocheted tablecloth with the saccharin delight of whatever happened to turn us on. We radiate our enthusiasm to such a degree that our sunny disposition inflicts third degree burns on the more morose members of our audience.
What I want to focus on here is shared as the operative word in that expression. Simply running around as a personal celestial object-gone-wild shouting “Woot!” and flashing our globes of exuberance at every passerby may only serve enough to elicit a “Thanks for sharing” muttered sarcastically from a set of lips pinched shut on one side. This is tantamount to how zoo imprisoned primates share of themselves with their human viewers on the other side of the cage.
By sharing I’m referring to showing others the location of the wellspring into which we dipped our overflowing chalice. It’s not enough for us to simply show others that we are happy and expect that they will merely experience joy by proxy. Possibly, maybe. But when we leave do we take our joyful ball home and the game of feeling delight ends for the others? Or do we show them the rules of the happiness game so they can continue to play when we are no longer in their presence?
If we carry our candle into a room and offer our light, we cannot simply serve as the only light source. We must tip our flame to the candles of others so they can continue to shine on their own as well. We may need the flame we ignited for them when we might someday find ourselves in the dark.