On July 16, 1903, poet Rainer Maria Rilke wrote the fourth letter that year to a poet some fifteen years younger named Franz Xaver Kappus – part of a series of immortalized letters collected in several translations as Letters to a Young Poet. The young poet’s letters to his elder are rife with questions – “Should I continue to write?” “Are my poems any good?” “How do I choose between my desire to love somebody and my need for solitude?” And so on.
Many of us creatives have an inner Franz. We seek other authorities – our models, our mentors, our coaches, our idols – for answers to our deepest and most unsettling questions.
Would that our authority figures could muster the patience and wisdom Rilke displayed in his long letters back to the young poet. Here is an excerpt (bold mine):
“You are so young, so much before all beginning, and I would to beg you, dear Sir, as well as I can, to have patience with everything unresolved in your heart and to try to love the questions themselves as if they were locked rooms or books written in a very foreign language. Don’t search for the answers, which could not be given to you now, because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps then, someday far in the future, you will gradually, without even noticing it, live your way into the answer.” (from Stephen Mitchell’s translation, Vintage Books, 1984)
This passage rattled my twenty-year-old soul all those days ago. Now its sentiment seems simply part of my skin’s fabric. It’s what prompted the question of questions for creatives I ask myself and you every morning:
What does “authentic” mean after all but, from the Greek authentes, “one who acts upon the voice of his own authority.” And for most of us, it takes a lifetime to live into listening to that voice, doesn’t it?
Drop in the Hut
What questions are you living in these days? How do you live them instead of seek easy answers? I love hearing your advice and stories.
See you in the woods,
WONDER FOR CREATIVES
Steal one of 4 spots left.
Mabel Dodge Luhan House, Taos, NM
March 11-16, 2012
YOGA AS MUSE & WONDER IN THE BAHAMAS
Bahamas Yoga Retreat Center
sampler course: Jan. 23-24, 2012
Yoga As Muse writing course:
January 26-30, 2012