gibran.jpg My soul and I went down to the great sea to bathe. And when we reached the shore, we went about looking for a hidden and lonely place.

But as we walked, we saw a man sitting on a grey rock taking pinches of salt from a bag and throwing them into the sea.

“This is the pessimist,” said my soul. “Let us leave this place. We cannot bathe here.”

We walked on until we reached an inlet. Then we saw standing on a white rock, a man holding a bejewelled box from which he took sugar and threw it into the sea.

“And this is the optimist,” said my soul. “And he too, must not see our naked bodies.”

…And on we walked. suddenly we heard a voice crying, “This is the sea. This is the deep sea. This is the vast and mighty sea.” And when we reached the voice, it was a man whose back was turned to the sea, and at his ear he held a shell, listening to its murmur.

And my soul said, “Let us pass on. He is the realist who turns his back on the whole he cannot grasp, and busies himself with a fragment.”

So we passed on. And in a weedy place among the rocks was a man with his head buried in the sand. And I said to my soul, “We can bathe here, for he cannot see us.”

“Nay,” said my soul. “For he is the most deadly of them all. He is the puritan.”

Then a great sadness came over the face of my soul…

“The Greater Sea” from Kahlil Gibran’s The Madman