“Solitude has soft, silky hands, but with strong fingers it grasps the heart and makes it ache with sorrow. Solitude is the ally of sorrow as well as a companion of spiritual exaltation.” ~ Broken Wings
Sometimes, very briefly, I wish I could empty my identity, to dissolve any sophistication of thought and be mentally frozen like most of society around me who seem content living within these false facades and who dumb themselves down until they actually forget how to use their own minds, just so this heartache could end.
The impossibility to find a friend seems almost obvious now, someone at the same level as me, reading the same page. I can’t read backwards. The most dangerous in our society tend to be the most ignorant and I can’t risk being hurt again, but the arid desert in front of me is frightening, the mirage of my own corpse standing in the hot distance singing captivating tunes of death.
The further I continue, the further away I am from others. I am left with a choice that I am unwilling to make or accept, to face this solitude with courage. To let go of the need to be worldly. To reach the end of the novel alone as a hero.
Khalil Gibran (1883-1931) remains one of the greatest authors and poets of the 20th century. He fell in love with headmistress Mary Elizabeth Haskell, a highly respected philanthropist who was passionate about the arts, 10 years his senior. She thoroughly supported his progress, referred to as a “she-angel” by Gibran knowing that it was only through her that he could progress and succeed in the arts.
While the beginning love was professional and wholly filled by filial friendship, his affections for her grew more powerful overtime. His awareness of her ability to dive deep into the unknown territories of his own mind and expose to him both his talents and manhood made him see a need to make the union enduring. Without her, he was just a boy who had lost so much of everything that he knew and she was the only one who could see him for what he was beyond his body and possessions.
“The sensitive boy who feels much and knows little is the most unfortunate creature under the sun, because he is torn by two forces. The first force elevates him and shows him the beauty of existence through a cloud of dreams; the second ties him down to the earth and fills his eyes with dust and overpowers him with fears and darkness.” ~ Broken Wings
The intensification grew slowly, Mary herself hesitant to move from friendship toward the passion that he was feeling for her, the deep need to connect with her beyond this initial phase of contact as though she were a part of him, clearly indicative in the art that he began painting. While she understood his need to be near her and his love for her which she reciprocated, she could not pass the barrier she felt because of her age, her skin and appearance lost to time that she despite wanting to be his wife and lover, she simply could not ignore.
She knew it would not last with her or without her. She already possessed a free spirit and would traverse mountains and spend time alone in the woods, and he loved that calling her the ‘life-hunter’. She decided to give him her love as a partner in order for it to remain eternal, but never marry.
“… thus the will of Heaven freed me from the bondage of youth and solitude and let me walk in the procession of love. Love is the only freedom in the world because it so elevates the spirit that the laws of humanity and the phenomena of nature do not alter its course.” ~ Broken Wings
It began to hurt him when he realised that she could not give him what he wanted above all else, her, in every way. He wanted to marry her. He felt grief, nothing would comfort him but her and he simply could not understand how she felt; she was beautiful to him, perfect, a part of his soul. But, without marriage he felt like he was losing her.
She saw non-possessive love as a way to ensure permanency, something age would never allow. He wrote to her of his longing, for her to be near him to talk about the art he was channeling, and this restlessness for her presence continued to intensify. He really loved her, no matter how much he would reason or speak of otherwise.
“Extreme torture is mute, and so we sat silent, petrified, like columns of marble buried under the sand of an earthquake. Neither wished to listen to the other because our heart-threads had become weak and even breathing would have broken them.” ~ Broken Wings
“I love to be silent with you, Mary.” ~ Letter to Mary by Khalil
She married, eventually, to another man though continued to support him as he went on to write and explore identity and sorrow, madness and the masks that we create in society to survive. His poetry questions the difference between the ‘self’ versus the ‘real self’ or what a person is within genuinely and authentically.
Madness is a condition caused by living within a false facade that we create and only when we give up this incompleteness and obscurity by being who we really are, by really loving and being loved, only by becoming what we really are by flying up and away from it all can we ever really enable truth to set us free. His love for her and her love for him set him free.
“Those whom love has not given wings cannot fly the cloud of appearances to see the magic world in which Selma’s spirit and mine existed together in that sorrowfully happy hour. Those whom Love has not chosen as followers do not hear when Love calls. “
Also see: Broken Wings which was inspired by Khalil Gibran’ work.