Be patient to all that is unsolved in your heart and try to
Love the questions themselves like locked rooms and like books
that are written in a very foreign tongue. Do not seek the
answers, which cannot be given you because you would not
be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything.
Live the questions now. Perhaps you will then gradually, without
noticing it, live along some distant day into the answer.
Resolve to be always beginning – to be a beginner
-Rainer Maria Rilke
Writing this on the cusp of the full moon and with so much change chasing me down, I find solace in the opening sentence of the above poem by Rainer Maria Rilke. “Be patient to all that is unsolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves…” I have so many questions, many more than I thought possible at my age. I wrongly assumed that nearing the fifth decade of life I would have acquired wisdom and be in the honorary position of teacher, imparting what I have learned to others. I could not have been more wrong. The older I get, the more I begin to understand that I really know nothing at all.
“Perhaps all the dragons in our lives are princesses who are only waiting to see us act, just once, with beauty and courage. Perhaps everything that frightens us is, in its deepest essence,something helpless that wants our love.”
-Rainer Maria Rilke
I have illusions and opinions, as one will accumulate, the metaphorical “dragon” that Rilke speaks to above. These dragons are constantly tested in uncomfortable and unforgiving ways. I continue to hope that they will in fact become “princesses” and blossom into some incredible insight and knowing. I try to live my life with as much courage as I can muster egging on this transformation. Yet, it still eludes me. At times it is as if I am beginning anew each day, as a child, unsure of everything and reframing all things that I encounter in an attempt to make sense of it all in some small way. It is a frightening feeling, but I inherently understand a necessary one for my spiritual growth.
“Let everything happen to you
Beauty and terror
Just keep going
No feeling is final”
-Rainer Maria Rilke
This does not mean that I happen upon this journey with good nature and delight. On the contrary, during times of intense challenge, change and discomfort, I develop a deep desire to flee. To run from all that troubles me, hiding in plain site from any transformative opportunities. I begrudgingly curse the Divine for forcing this difficult path on me when others seem to have it so easy. The “why me?” voice in my mind can be loud, shouting for attention. I have learned that I must actively ignore this voice even if I still hear it in the distance. It is a voice born from fear of the unknown, my own personal dragon. Ignoring this voice is clearly a choice and one that I make moment to moment when caught up in the weeds of transformation.
I have taken to challenging my inner dialogue with a few statements of my own creation, among them “be brave” and “my heart is open”. I have even told myself over and over “I am loving and lovable”. For some reason this helps me see all things from the lens of love rather than anger or fear, even those instance in which I bring something upon myself knowing full well that I should not. Forgiveness of self is one of the most difficult pills to swallow.
Instead of standing on the shore and proving to ourselves
that the ocean cannot carry us, let us venture on its waters
just to see.
—Teilhard de Chardin
One thing I do believe to be true is that we must choose to show up each day, living the questions with no answers promised. Maybe the true measure of a life well lived is simply the commitment to approach each day with joy and curiosity. To live fully without understanding the deeper truths and letting that be enough. It is a difficult reality to embrace when the winds of change beckon again and again. As Teilhard de Chardin says so well, “…let us venture on its water just to see.” I wish to “see” what today, tomorrow and everyday thereafter will bring, no matter the consequence.