I was strolling in the gardens of an insane asylum when I met a young man who was reading a philosophy book. His behavior and his evident good health made him stand out from the other inmates.
I sat down beside him and asked:
What are you doing here?
He looked at me, surprised. But seeing that I was not one of the doctors, he replied:
It’s very simple. My father, a brilliant lawyer, wanted me to be like him.
My uncle, who owns a large emporium, hoped I would follow his example.
My mother wanted me to be the image of her beloved father.
My sister always set her husband before me as an example of the successful man.
My brother tried to train me up to be a fine athlete like himself.
And the same thing happened at school, with the piano teacher and the English teacher — they were all convinced and determined that they were the best possible example to follow.
None of them looked at me as one should look at a man, but as if they were looking in a mirror.
So I decided to enter this asylum. At least here I can be myself.
– Khalil Gibran
Song of the Flower
I am a kind word uttered and repeated
By the voice of Nature;
I am a star fallen from the
Blue tent upon the green carpet.
I am the daughter of the elements
With whom Winter conceived;
To whom Spring gave birth; I was
Reared in the lap of Summer and I
Slept in the bed of Autumn.
At dawn I unite with the breeze
To announce the coming of light;
At eventide I join the birds
In bidding the light farewell.
The plains are decorated with
My beautiful colors, and the air
Is scented with my fragrance.
As I embrace Slumber the eyes of
Night watch over me, and as I
Awaken I stare at the sun, which is
The only eye of the day.
I drink dew for wine, and hearken to
The voices of the birds, and dance
To the rhythmic swaying of the grass.
I am the lover’s gift; I am the wedding wreath;
I am the memory of a moment of happiness;
I am the last gift of the living to the dead;
I am a part of joy and a part of sorrow.
But I look up high to see only the light,
And never look down to see my shadow.
This is wisdom which man must learn.