I had breakfast with my shadow
we had quite the discussion
can you fall in love with the things you only know
the things that you may never touch
Be patient towards all that is unsolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves, like locked rooms and like books that are now written in a very foreign tongue. Do not now 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.
-Rainer Maria Rilke
I love that quote by Rilke. It has resonated with me ever since I first came across it. I love the phrase “…all that is unsolved in your heart…”. There is much that is unsolved in my heart, especially now, when so many parts of my life are in transition. The ground is shifting beneath my feet, both in my inner and outer landscapes. Some changes I anticipated, and some I did not. I have thoughts that I never imagined would come and lodge in my mind. Questions for which I have no neat answers. I ask myself how I am to find clarity amidst all this change. Sometimes it’s like learning the steps to a dance I never wanted to do. I stumble and falter and feel clumsy and uncertain. It’s uncomfortable, and it’s hard.
Rilke says we should not seek the answers, that we need to live the questions. What a liberating thought. To settle into the complexity and nuance of my questions, to lean into the ambiguity and even to welcome the confusion. This means growing a capacity to tolerate discomfort. It’s challenging to be present to the feelings that threaten to overwhelm me, to acknowledge them as valuable and important information. But I am learning to do just that. To sit with the not knowing and the anxiety that it brings. And I am finding that in acknowledging these difficult parts of myself, befriending them, I am discovering new strength and appreciation for the many gifts of each day. Leaning into sadness, anger and fear has opened me more deeply to experiences of joy, hope and delight. It’s such a paradox, and so unexpected.
“…can you fall in love with the things you only know, the things that you may never touch…” I know that my life is good; I know that in all things I am growing and learning and becoming. I know that God is in everything, every day, every struggle and joy. I can’t always touch these things. Sometimes they feel very far away and out of reach. But I think I am, as Rilke says, living into the answers. And for now, that is enough.