04 December 2004

lilies in the field

We must accept our reality as vastly as we possibly can; everything, even the unprecedented, must be possible within it. This is in the end the only kind of courage that is required of us: the courage to face the strangest, most unusual, most inexplicable experiences that can meet us.

The fact that people have in this sense been cowardly has done infinite harm to life; the experiences that are called "apparitions," the whole so-called "spirit world," death, all these Things that are so closely related to us, have through our daily defensiveness been so entirely pushed out of life that the senses with which we might have been able to grasp them have atrophied. To say nothing of God.

But the fear of the inexplicable has not only impoverished the reality of the individual; it has also narrowed the relationship between one human being and another, which has as it were been lifted out of the riverbed of infinite possibilities and set down in a fallow place on the bank, where nothing happens. For it is not only indolence that causes human relationships to be repeated from case to case with such unspeakable monotony and boredom; it is timidity before any new, inconceivable experience, which we don't think we can deal with. but only someone who is ready for everything, who doesn't exclude any experience, even the most incomprehensible, will live the relationship with another person as something alive and will himself sound the depths of his own being.

For if we imagine this being of the individual as a larger or smaller room, it is obvious that most people come to know only one corner of their room, one spot near the window, one narrow strip on which they keep walking back and forth. In this way they have a certain security. And yet how much more human is the dangerous insecurity that drives those prisoners in Poe's stories to feel out the shapes of their horrible dungeons and not be strangers to the unspeakable terror of their cells.

We, however, are not prisoners. No traps or snares have been set around us, and there is nothing that should frighten or upset us.We have been put into life as into the element we most accord with, and we have, moreover, through thousands of years of adaptation, come to resemble this life so greatly that when we hold still, through a fortunate mimicry we can hardly be differentiated from everything around us. We have no reason to harbor any mistrust against our world, for it is not against us. If it has terrors, they are our terrors; if it has abysses, these abysses belong to us; if there are dangers, we must try to love them.

And if only we arrange our life in accordance with the principle which tells us that we must always trust in the difficult, then what now appears to us as the most alien will become our most intimate and trusted experience. How could we forget those ancient myths that stand at the beginning of all races, the myths about dragons that at the last moment are transformed into princesses? 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.
-Rilke, translated by Steven Mitchell

I was thrilled to find a Spanish translation of Letters To a Young Poet for Abuelita for a Christmas gift. I have always wanted to share this book with her. This book is a collection of letters from
Ranier Maria Rilke, German poet born in Prague, to a young aspiring poet about being an artist, solitude, sadness, love. Given when it was written (1903-08), Rilke's ideas about relationships and women are a bit beyond his time. Letter 7 and Letter 8 I really appreciate, though it all is worth reading and re-reading. I like Steven Mitchell's translation.

"It is obvious that most people come to know only one corner of their room, one spot near the window, one narrow strip on which they keep walking back and forth. In this way they have a certain security". --- That I live within a very narrow sliver of reality is something I've become more and more aware of, and though I've transcended a number of behaviors that made my world very small, this seems still very true for me in the emotional and psychic realm.

I worry that my kindred bloggers will stereotype my blog as linear, that is, one dimensionally focused on the sweet things like love and trees and desire and sadness. My recent blogs might make that case.: ) To that end, my old boyfriend, Doug, often referred to me as the girl who is "running through the field with the lilies" which always gave me an image of Laura Ingalls and her field.

On an unrelated note, I recently cancelled my home phone service and am using just my cell along with broadband. Let me tell you that I feel lighter! As an aside,
Vonage seems to be a good deal for those who have broadband and want regular phone service with all the usual amenities.

Tomorrow I am meeting Kate and Deanna for coffee! It has been 6 or 7 years since I've seen them. How great is that~


Clinton Springer said...

I figure a blog is whatever you make it. Besides, I like what you post. So please, keep it up. What's wrong with trees and lilies anyway?

Clinton Springer said...

I figure a blog is whatever you make it. Besides, I like what you post. So please, keep it up. What's wrong with trees and lilies anyway?

silvie said...

that makes two of us. i look forward to your soulful, perceptive and beautifully written posts. i recently watched the virgin suicides a day or two before you wrote about it. i liked it a lot, maybe not as much as lost in translation, which is one of my favorite movies in a very long time. the scene where bill murray softly sings roxy music's 'more than this' comes to mind. precious. ok, so i'll stick with lilies and love for now.

Peptide said...

follow your blog bliss. whatever interests you at the time, whatever moves you to share.

liz said...

it is first and foremost your blog; but i understand or maybe more accurately, empathize with any feelings of self-consciousness that accompanies the act of posting. i find your posts thoughtful and am grateful for the reflective tone i often find in them.

silvie said...

pep-topus, indeed. blog bliss.

liz, thanks for the kind reply. i appreciate that. i like you through the little bit of knowing you through tanque. i don't think we ever met when i was in bloomington that i recall, though my memory from that period is challenged. i was there from 88-94.

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