This is the Brain Pickings midweek pick-me-up: Once a week, I plunge into my 12-year archive and choose something worth resurfacing and resavoring as timeless nourishment for heart, mind, and spirit. (If you don’t yet subscribe to the standard Sunday newsletter of new pieces published each week, you can sign up here – it’s free.) If you missed this year’s highlights, you can see the best of Brain Pickings 2018 in one place. And if you find any value and joy in my labor of love, please consider supporting it with a donation – over these twelve years, I have spent tens of thousands of hours and tremendous resources on Brain Pickings, and every little bit of support helps keep it going. If you already donate: THANK YOU.

FROM THE ARCHIVE | The Difficult Balance of Intimacy and Independence: Beloved Philosopher and Poet Kahlil Gibran on the Secret to a Loving and Lasting Relationship

kahlilgibran_theprophet.jpg?fit=320%2C462

“What’s the use of falling in love if you both remain inertly as-you-were?” Mary McCarthy asked her friend Hannah Arendt in their correspondence about love. The question resonates because it speaks to a central necessity of love — at its truest and most potent, love invariably does change us, deconditioning our painful pathologies and elevating us toward our highest human potential. It allows us, as Barack Obama so eloquently wrote in his reflections on what his mother taught him about love, “to break across our solitude, and then, if we’re lucky, [be] finally transformed into something firmer.”

But in the romantic ideal upon which our modern mythos of love is built, the solidity of that togetherness is taken to such an extreme as to render love fragile. When lovers are expected to fuse together so closely and completely, mutuality mutates into a paralyzing codependence — a calcified and rigid firmness that becomes brittle to the possibility of growth. In the most nourishing kind of love, the communion of togetherness coexists with an integrity of individuality, the two aspects always in dynamic and fluid dialogue. The philosopher Martin Heidegger captured this beautifully in his love letters to Hannah Arendt“Why is love rich beyond all other possible human experiences and a sweet burden to those seized in its grasp? Because we become what we love and yet remain ourselves.”

This difficult balance of intimacy and independence is what the great Lebanese-American artist, poet, and philosopher Kahlil Gibran (January 6, 1883–April 10, 1931) explores with uncommon insight and poetic precision in a passage from his 1923 masterwork The Prophet (public library).

pabloneruda_poetofthepeople5.jpg?w=600

Illustration by Julie Paschkis from Pablo Neruda: Poet of the People by Monica Brown

By way of advice on the secret to a loving and lasting marriage, Gibran offers:

2e292385-dc1c-4cfe-b95e-845f6f98c2ec.pngLet there be spaces in your togetherness,
And let the winds of the heavens dance between you.

Love one another but make not a bond of love:
Let it rather be a moving sea between the shores of your souls.
Fill each other’s cup but drink not from one cup.
Give one another of your bread but eat not from the same loaf.
Sing and dance together and be joyous, but let each one of you be alone,
Even as the strings of a lute are alone though they quiver with the same music.

Give your hearts, but not into each other’s keeping.
For only the hand of Life can contain your hearts.
And stand together, yet not too near together:
For the pillars of the temple stand apart,
And the oak tree and the cypress grow not in each other’s shadow.

Complement this particular portion of the wholly enchanting The Prophet with Virginia Woolf on what makes love last, philosopher Alain Badiou on how we fall and stay in love, Anna Dostoyevsky on the secret to a happy marriage, Mary Oliver on how differences bring couples closer together, and Joseph Campbell on the single most important factor in sustaining romantic relationships, then revisit Gibran on the seeming self vs. the authentic self and the absurdity of our self-righteousness.

FORWARD TO A FRIEND/READ ARTICLE ONLINE/Like https://www.brainpickings.org/2016/09/27/kahlil-gibran-the-prophet-love-marriage/ on Facebook

donating=loving

I pour tremendous time, thought, heart, and resources into Brain Pickings, which remains free and ad-free, and is made possible by patronage. If you find any joy, stimulation, and consolation in my labor of love, please consider supporting it with a donation. And if you already donate, from the bottom of my heart: THANK YOU.

monthly donation

You can become a Sustaining Patron with a recurring monthly donation of your choosing, between a cup of tea and a Brooklyn lunch.

one-time donation

Or you can become a Spontaneous Supporter with a one-time donation in any amount.

Start Now Give Now

Live Special in NYC: Figuring with Elizabeth Gilbert

figuring_PW.jpg?resize=680%2C357

What an honor and a joy to sit down with Elizabeth Gilbert — one of the most splendid writers and splendid humans I know — for a conversation around (though not necessarily about) Figuring at Pioneer Works, the only public event I am doing for the book.

Tickets are priced at $29 — the number of chapters in the book — with all proceeds benefiting Pioneer Works’ endeavor to build New York City’s first-ever public observatory.

Signed copies of both of our books will be available, as will a special limited edition of 50 signed, numbered copies of Figuring made exclusively for Pioneer Works, also benefitting the observatory.

February 8, 2019
Pioneer Works
159 Pioneer Street
Brooklyn, NY 11231

Doors at 6PM, talk at 7PM. General admission. Seating is first come, first served.

FORWARD TO A FRIEND/GET TICKETS/Like https://www.brainpickings.org/live/ on Facebook

IF YOU MISSED THEM:

The Best of Brain Pickings 2018

The Loveliest Children’s Books of 2018

Overall Favorite Books of 2018

---
Advertisements

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.