Walking with Rilke
For my Canadian readers, you might have read today's blog post title as a nod to Ted Bishop's book, Riding with Rilke, and you'd be right.
Instead of heading out to an archive on a cool Italian motorcycle, today we will head out on foot, rather aimlessly, on foot, in a nondescript suburbs.
Since I divested of a great deal of my personal library, I've had the occasional moment where I've worried about whether I did in fact keep this book or that. I've had a few moments of perusing the shelf, cursing myself, only to find the book I was hoping for. And there have been a few times when I wished I had kept a certain book, after all. (Though on each occasion, I was able to find the book online). One book I'm glad I kept is Letters on Life by Rainer Maria Rilke, the German poet. And so, today – my offering is photographs from a morning walk, interspersed with quotations from this volume. Every time I read it, I seem to underline something new.
From the chapter, "On Solitude."
"But to be what I am, to live what I was meant to live, to want to sound like no one else, to yield the blossoms dictated to my heart: this is what I want – and surely this cannot be arrogance."
From "On Childhood and Education."
"Most people do not know at all how beautiful the world is and how much magnificence is revealed in the tiniest things, in some flower, in a stone, in tree bark, or in a birch leaf."
"There is really no more beautiful way of putting one's own life force to the test than by recognizing and seizing joy itself, without exaggeration but purely with the strength of joy, and to grasp with its proper measure the perfection and loveliness of a few days without even the least sense of a 'too much.'"
From "On Difficulty and Adversity."
"Whatever is heavy and difficult, as long as it is only borne properly, also marks the precise weight of life. It teaches us the measure by which we may know our strength and which we may then also apply when we feel blessed with happiness."
From "On Work."
"Get up cheerfully on days you have to work, if you can. And if you can't, what keeps you from doing so? Is there something heavy that blocks the way? What do you have against heaviness and difficulty?...Life itself is heavy and difficult. And you do actually want to live? Then you are mistaken in calling it your duty to take on difficulties. It's your survival instinct that pushes you to do it. So what is duty, then? It is duty to love what is difficult....You have to be there when it needs you."
From "On Life and Living."
"And yet life is transformation: all that is good is transformation and all that is bad as well."
"You have to live life to the limit, not according to each day but according to its depth."
"It is possible to feel so very abandoned at times. And so much depends on the tiny indulgences of things, whether we can cope at all when they suddenly don't respond to us and don't move us along."
"The longer I live, the more urgent it seems to me to endure and transcribe the whole dictation of existence up to its end, for it might just be the case that only the very last sentence contains that small and possibly inconspicuous word through which everything we had struggled to learn and everything we had failed to understand will be transformed suddenly into magnificent sense."
"My god, how magnificent life is precisely owing to its unforeseability and to the often so strangely certain steps of our blindness."
Thanks for joining me on my walk this morning.
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