Khalil Gibran is one of those writers whose words seem like doses of hypnotherapy. The Lebanese-American author was a poet, a novelist and an inspiration. There are probably far more folks with a Gibran quote on their Facebook wall than there are people who have copies of his books, but his widespread appeal is deserved due to the gems of knowledge he has left behind.
An old music teacher of mine had a shelf dedicated solely to Gibran’s work. The books with no jacket had only gold scroll embossed into their cloth-like covers. They were unassuming but cherished and after reading through a set of his poems, I understood why. One of the passages that stayed with me the most was from a poem called “A Visit From Wisdom.” It reads:
All that you see with your eyes was And is for your sake.
The many books and the strange patterns and
Beautiful thoughts are the shades of those spirits
That came ere you were come. The words that you
Do weave are a bond between you and your brothers.
The conclusions, grievous and joyous, are the
Seeds that the past did scatter in the field of the
Spirit to be reaped by the future. That youth who
Plays with your desires is he who will open the door
Of your heart to let enter the light. This earth with
The ever open mouth is the savior of your spirit from
The body’s slavery. This world which walks with
You is your heart; and your heart is all that you
Think that world.
What struck me about Gibran’s words were how similar they were to what I had grown up hearing just in a very different way. The poem deals with the balance between vulnerability and openness- words that are not opposite but at times can feel that way. It’s that balance that my aunts would talk about in hushed tones while I was loitering through my mother’s me time. It was what my mother’s older sisters would say to the youngest among them, “Just make sure you’re keeping things tight.”
While there are many strengths shared by women of color, one thing that I think we’re indoctrinated with is being our own emotional guards. Sometimes it can get a little heavier than it needs to but growing means learning the difference between keeping your mind right and raising emotional walls. Staying focused on that balance and guarding what permeates our minds can only make us stronger against negativity and more receptive to love. Most importantly, it can help us distinguish the difference when it’s hard to.
Today, work on keeping it tight and step confidently into the world.