In April, 1970 — a lifetime away for many readers — Simon & Schuster published a book titled Joys and Sorrows: Reflections by Pablo Casals. A Catalonian native, Casals is regarded as one of the foremost cellists of our time. He lived a long life, passing away in 1973 at the age of 96.
When asked — at age 93 — why he continued to practice the cello for three hours every day, his memorable reply was, “I’m beginning to see some improvement.”
This is one of the famous quotations I want to remember, and more, I want to borrow this attitude in my own work. I want to practice writing every day, spend time studying both the art and craft of the written word, and I hope that, like the great Pablo Casals, I might begin “to see some improvement.”
Although the book is no longer in print, it’s worth reading if you can pick up a used copy. Some libraries might still have it on the shelves, too, so on your next visit, you might want to search the card catalog to see if you can find this treasured look at life through the eyes of a remarkable man with a gentle, poetic voice.
In addition to being the title of a very beautiful book, the term “joys and sorrows” has another meaning, I’ve learned. Those words are part of a weekly service performed by the Universalist Unitarian Association, a spiritual church which welcomes all to its congregation. The rite invites individuals to reflect upon life, to remember sorrows, to honor those who have passed away, and to celebrate, too, the joys of life.
As this new year begins, it seems an apt time for reflection, a perfect time to look back upon our own lives and to honor those who have passed away. With all the talk of 2015 being a “book of 365 blank pages”, perhaps we could each begin writing our own book of “Joys and Sorrows” and share our personal reflections.
While browsing around the internet, I’ve found several quotations that speak of joys and sorrows.
We choose our joys and sorrows long before we experience them.
– Kahlil Gibran –
The possibilities were endless. Battles would be fought. Wonders revealed. Many journeys. Many lands. Many joys. Many sorrows. But stories all…
– William Joyce –
Joys impregnate. Sorrows bring forth.
– William Blake –
I found, too, this quiet prayer:
Thank you for today, yesterday, and tomorrow; my family, my joys, my sorrows; for all that made me stronger.
Indeed, the New Year is a perfect time for reflection, a time to express our gratitude, to respect our sorrows and acknowledge their place in our experience, and to embrace the joy of each day — those gone by, those we are living now, and those yet to come.
May your New Year 2015 be filled with blessings.