Tag Archive: Rainer Maria Rilke

…like closed rooms and books written in a very strange tongue…  (Rilke in Letters to a Young Poet)


I never had a true mentor when I was finding out who I really am.  Everyone that I wanted to sit under, learn from, absorb their wisdom, were very much at arm’s length.  To be fair, I was and am very hard to know.  Even in the writings that are here in these entries, I do not broadcast what I write to even the closest of friends.  Most people that I am closest to I do not trust well enough to share these feelings to them, because it’s a part of my self that I rarely have a chance to open to the sunlight. 

Being very temporary in the past, I learned that most people truly do not like to do those things that I enjoy.  So, I have learned to adapt, to do what they do.  I get my joy and community and fellowship from whatever they do.  For the most part, that seems to be the best way.  I almost to a fault, end up doing what they would like to do… never what I would choose, and except for the rarest of circumstances, no one reciprocates.

One could infer that I was a little disappointed in that.  That might be true, but the point is, that I have never quite learned how to cultivate those things that truly fill me up.  True I indulge in inspiring events.  But, the world I live in, I don’t share that often.  At least not anymore.  So, at times my focus is very much on me, other times it never includes me.  There doesn’t seem to be any balance there.

When I was younger, I wish that someone had helped me cultivate patience with those things in my life that were not finished or not near completion.  Those that knew me well enough to help me with those things were my age, never someone older or wiser.  I would have loved to hear the words from Rilke:

“Do not search now for the answers which cannot be given because you could not live them.”

Wow.  If that nugget of wisdom had seeped into my heart decades ago, I very well could have been a quite different individual.  The idea that some answers come only when you’re ready to live them out is something I have been struggling with for years.  It might not have made any difference, for I am truly hard-headed, but it would have been a chance for a different outcome in many stages of my early life.

There isn’t anything more important to having a divine perspective when dealing with our daily lives.  We are told that God answers prayer in one of three ways:  Yes, No, and Not at this time.  At this moment, after learning something that I should have known a long time ago, I am trying to cultivate the concept of cherishing the questions for which I do not have answers.  I feel like I’m 20 all over again, stuck in a 40-year-old reality.  I have to dig in to seek what I’ve been missing for so long.

So, in this, another stage of learning how to be permanent, I embark into something that is quite new to me.  A time of solitude.  I have been on the edge and periphery for a long time now.  I withdraw from those things and those people who have encouraged that temporary nature in myself.  I do so, not because I want to, but after events have shown me that I’m on the cusp of a change in my life…  I should be sure that my reactions and actions are because I am moving into a less temporary mindset.  That cannot happen if I am still doing what I have always done.  I am grateful for the signs and actions by others that unfortunately got my attention, despite the circumstances in which they were shown to me.

Here’s to loving “… your solitude and bear the pain which it has caused you with fair-sounding lament.”  (Rilke) 

Let’s see what transpires, let’s see what transforms.


Nourished by normalcy

If your daily life seems poor, do not blame it; blame yourself that you are not poet enough to call forth its riches; for the Creator, there is no poverty. —Rainer Maria Rilke

One thing about my life now as opposed to other times in the past is that I am inside quite a bit.  It’s very isolating because of the weird hours that I have.  When the world is awake and busy, I am idle and the vice versa is true.  There have been whole weeks where I haven’t ventured outside, whole weeks where I haven’t even spoken to someone outside of my responsibilities.  For an extrovert, it feels very much like I am becoming introverted against my will.  But with all things, there is always a choice.

In reading Letters to a Young Poet by Rilke, I came across the quote above.  So, since the news that my preparations for a new life have come crashing down, I had all the makings for a full-blown dark time in my life.  Who knows, I still may… However, I realise that what I want from life is far from concrete, and at times it seems esoteric enough to be called poetic.  So that quote struck me hard.

… for the Creator, there is no poverty…

Of course what Rilke is talking about is poverty of spirit, of perspective, of inspiration, of life.  For many people, that richness is absent, or at the very least, veiled by the mundanities of life. 

For me, when that perspective creeps up, I seek out something that seems normal, an every day situation.  A large group of people in a public place, an ordinary mundane situation… and I look for something extra there.  Rainstorms and great winds and forces of nature make for a wonderful place to see something divine.  People love to be awestruck with the beauty that surrounds nature… flowers, sunsets, snow, oceans, etc.  It’s another thing to find beauty in the urban decay of the city.  To find something outside of ourselves in the hustle and bustle, or in the brokenness of humanity… that’s where those that create find their purpose, find their meaning, find their riches.

I am a writer.  Whether or not my words or voice have impact on anyone else other than myself remains to be seen.  But, there is a great hole in my life when I cannot or do not stop to seek out that which makes my life rich.  Over the last couple of weeks while I have languished over the decisions that do not lead out to Birmingham, I have come to terms that I still much that I want to say, want to see…  and now I realise that it is up to me to make sure that I have the opportunity. 

Creative people need to be inspired.  Often that is why during times in my life when I’ve been disconnected or disjointed, I have nothing to write about.  Nothing seems to come.  So, I have to get out of my normal pattern of life.  So, I have reveled in the rainstorms lately.  Whole days listening to the splatter of raindrops.  Seeing the canal behind my home pocked by the constant drizzle.  That has kept me from feeling overwhelmed with yet another life change left behind.

But, I need to get out of the house, go to a place, perhaps grab a cup of tea or coffee, and watch.  School campuses, all-night diners, bus stations, crowded halls… and many other places have been my refuge in the past.  Maybe I’ll find a place where my anonymity is a way to absorb inspiration.  Not interacting with my surroundings but allow them to interact with me. 

Perhaps that is what Rilke also meant.  Instead of Creator with a capital “C”, perhaps it also extends to a creator with a small “c”.  I’ve always believed that creativity is intrinsically a part of us that is divinely breathed into us.  It reflects the Creator for us to be creative.  As someone who needs that to be nourished, perhaps the poverty that is in all of us is overcome by that which overcomes the world….

…for the creator, there is no poverty…

May I be proved poet enough to see things through.  Here’s to seeing the riches in our midst, and being transformed by them. 


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