That woman sitting on the bar stool with a martini and a magazine, or alone on her couch spinning imaginary people into books, or flying solo around the world: she is me. But won’t you be lonely? is a question I’ve heard a lot in my life, and I don’t know how to answer it, because isn’t everyone, somewhere inside themselves, lonely?
It’s rare to be truly seen. Rare to meet a kindred spirit who understands when you need to jump in your car and drive alone for thousands of miles, or go to a movie alone, or hike alone. Falling in love doesn’t change this conundrum. It took me a long time to understand that my heart’s silent, fierce response to a disappointed partner —What you want from me I can’t give you–did not mean I was at fault.
It’s rare to meet someone with the same pilgrim soul as you. It might feel like a revelation, like finally you can relax. Thirty years ago I might not have understood this beautiful poem below, but I do now.
Pathways, by Rainer Maria Rilke
Understand, I’ll slip quietly
away from the noisy crowd
when I see the pale stars rising, blooming, over the oaks.
I’ll pursue solitary pathways
through the pale twilit meadows,
with only this one dream:
You come too.
Click here more information about Rainer Maria Rilke.
from The Ninth Elegy, by Rainer Maria Rilke
Praise this world to the angel, not the unsayable one,
you won’t impress him with your glorious emotions; out there,
where he feels with more feeling, you’re but a novice. Rather show him
some common thing, shaped through the generations,
that lives as ours, near to our hand and in our sight.
Tell him of things. He’ll stand more awed; as you did
beside the ropemaker in Rome or the potter by the Nile.
Show him how joyful, how pure, how much ours, a thing can be,
how even the lamenting of sorrow resolves into pure form,
serves as a thing, or dies into a thing –, and, in going across,
blissfully flows from the violin. –And these things,
that live by going away, know that you praise them; fleeting,
they look to us for rescue, us, the most fleeting of all.
They want us to transform them completely in our invisible heart
into – oh infinitely – into ourselves. Whoever finally we will be.
(Rainer Maria Rilke, translated by Galway Kinnell and Hannah Lieberman)
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Fear of the Inexplicable
– Rainer Maria Rilke
But fear of the inexplicable has not alone impoverished
the existence of the individual; the relationship between
one human being and another has also been cramped by it,
as though it had been lifted out of the riverbed of
endless possibilities and set down in a fallow spot on the
bank, to which nothing happens. For it is not inertia alone
that is responsible for human relationships repeating
themselves from case to case, indescribably monotonous and
unrenewed: it is shyness before any sort of new,unforeseeable
experience with which one does not think oneself able to cope.
But only someone who is ready for everything, who excludes
nothing, not even the most enigmatical, will live the relation
to another as something alive and will himself draw exhaustively
from his own existence. For if we think of this existence of
the individual as a larger or smaller room, it appears evident
that most people learn to know only a corner of their room, a
place by the window, a strip of floor on which they walk up and
down. Thus they have a certain security. And yet that dangerous
insecurity is so much more human which drives the prisoners in
Poe’s stories to feel out the shapes of their horrible dungeons
and not be strangers to the unspeakable terror of their abode.
We, however, are not prisoners. No traps or snares are set about
us, and there is nothing which should intimidate or worry us.
We are set down in life as in the element to which we best
correspond, and over and above this we have through thousands of
years of accommodation become so like this life, that when we
hold still we are, through a happy mimicry, scarcely to be
distinguished from all that surrounds us. We have no reason to
mistrust our world, for it is not against us. Has it terrors,
they are our terrors; has it abysses, those abysses belong to us;
are dangers at hand, we must try to love them. And if only we
arrange our life according to that principle which counsels us
that we must always hold to the difficult, then that which now
still seems to us the most alien will become what we most trust
and find most faithful. How should we be able to forget those
ancient myths about dragons that at the last moment turn into
princesses; perhaps all the dragons of our lives are princesses
who are only waiting to see us once beautiful and brave. Perhaps
everything terrible is in its deepest being something helpless
that wants help from us.
For more information on Rainer Maria Rilke, please click here: http://www.poetryfoundation.org/bio/rainer-maria-rilke