Tuesday, September 8, 2009

fear of the inexplicable

i was never comfortable with the social niceties of friendship. i knew the terms but didn't learn them.

by choice.

perhaps that's unhealthy, perhaps that's incomprehensible to most. perhaps that's wrong.

despite moments of self-recrimination and self-doubt - particularly questions related to self-worth i have held fast to this relational piece.

i see myself as connected to people with whose lives i was intended to intersect - for better or for worse (and i think that's why inpart, in the orthodoxy of christian marriage that phrase is so pointedly there!), adding the artifical architecture of friendship to these connections would trivialize their significance.

my deepest and most profound relationships are timeless - they are not judged by the terms of this world - they are enriched by the terms of this world and others. they enrich this world and others.

i have been blessed to know extraordinary and beautiful people spirits who have brought unconditional love and joy into my life and for whom i have felt unconditional love and shared my joy in their very presence. sometimes these people spirits leave or are left. our connection ends. in the terms of this world there is sadness, loss, anger, hurt.

rainer maria rilke unpacked this soulful experience in his prose work fear of the inexplicable.

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 dungeonsand 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.

rainer maria rilke

1 comment:

  1. Steven: Rilke offers so much wisdom - one could contemplate every phrase for the learnings therein: 'the world's terrors and abysses are our terrors and abysses, we must try to love them - hold to the difficult - ' and the last beautiful phrase that 'everthing terrible is helpless and in need' - and I would add, even the terrible within.