A Poet on Sorrow and Destiny…

“I believe that almost all our sadnesses are moments of tension that we find paralyzing because we no longer hear our surprised feelings living. Because we are alone with the alien thing that has entered into our self; because everything intimate and accustomed is for an instant taken away; because we stand in the middle of a transition where we cannot remain standing. For this reason the sadness too passes: the new thing in us, the added thing, has entered into our heart, has gone into its inmost chamber and is not even there any more,–is already in our blood. And we do not learn what it was. We could easily be made to believe that nothing has happened, and yet we have changed, as a house changes into which a guest has entered. We cannot say who has come, perhaps we shall never know, but many signs indicate that the future enters into us in this way in order to transform itself in us long before it happens. And this is why it is so important to be lonely and attentive when one is sad: because the apparently uneventful and stark moment at which our future sets foot in us is so much closer to life than that other noisy and fortuitous point of time at which it happens to us as if from outside. The more still, more patient and more open we are when we are sad, so much the deeper and so much the more unswervingly does the new go into us, so much the better do we make it ours, so much the more will it be our destiny, and when on some later day it ‘happens’ (that is, steps forth out of us to others), we shall feel in our inmost selves akin and near to it. And that is necessary. It is necessary–and toward this our development will move gradually–that nothing strange should befall us, but only that which has long belonged to us. We have already had to rethink so many of our concepts of motion, we will also gradually learn to realize that that which we call destiny goes forth from within people…” Rainer Maria Rilke – Letters to a Young Poet

I love the “steps forth out of us to others” bit. So much steps forth out of us into our worlds and to others and so much we can cultivate of the best “stepping forth” through our attentiveness and willingness to trust self, to trust the processes of growth that include everything from intense pain to sheer delight. And how vital it is to allow these contrasts without judgement, without fear as we build our lives.

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6 thoughts on “A Poet on Sorrow and Destiny…

  1. dear jruth,

    glad that you have posted this. it made me realize the value of being loneliness, if not being in a state of solitude. it made me realize that there is nothing wrong to feel some ebbs in life when there is an open space to reflect and nurture the value of self within you. it was satisfying to find an oasis amidst the usual revelry of the days, that is, to find some quiet spots within the heart.

    thanks for sharing this.

    1. so glad it reached you and spoke to you. we do have our ebbing times, don’t we? i believe those times deepen our experiences of joy when we come out of their solitude, filled up with the sustenance of silence and acceptance.

  2. Beautiful perspective, once again, Jruth. It took me quite some time to live through the tougher times and not constantly seek a relief from a superficial “high”. To live quietly with sadness and allow it to pass has been a well learned lesson this life for me. As time has gone on, I see that others face great sadness, at times, also. Sometimes it culminates in a good cry and putting one step in front of the other again. The sensation often feels like walking through a cloud to the other side. Thank you.

    1. truly, and some days/weeks have more clouds than others. but it’s the stuff of growth, of ripening, of being deepened by those challenging experiences. and, thank you, leslie. 🙂

  3. we so fear sadness, don’t we…that we tend to run from it and flee and try to find things, INSTANTLY, to make us feel better…but sadness does serve a purpose…things happen to us for reasons…
    during one particularly trying summer I had to ask myself over and over again, “Why shouldn’t this be happening to me?” instead of “why is this happening to me?”–when i realized that sadness isn’t out to get me, it’s not personal in a way that picks on me…I was able to breathe through the sadnesses…and learn from it…

    blessings, and thank you for sharing that excerpt.

    1. i really like that question. it’s a great sobering reality and it redirects the natural tendency to feel like a victim when life comes seemingly out of the blue and hits us over the head with a 2×4 surprise. or just keeps on with the relentless tide of surreal demand and upheaval. one of my lil “mantras” is “this is life, ruth. this is life.” in other words, “it’s not unusual for 10 different threads of sorrow and loss to be woven into the same fabric of one life that also experiences multiple realities of joy, richness of living and hope.” there’s a verse in proverbs that says “a sad face is good for the heart…” and it’s true. when we feel sorrow and we show it on the face, we’re being honest and we’re allowing the change that sorrow evokes, allowing it to take place without hindrance because we’re saying “this is really truly sad for me.” i think that, having grown up with the idea that “jesus is the answer,” i have needed to accept that some things have no real solid solution, jesus or no jesus. the “answer” lies in acceptance and adaptation to whatever it is life has wrought. it’s pretty basic but that “answer” mindset can create some insidious influences overall. just when i think i’ve got the whole “roll with it” while changing plans and shifting focus rapidly thing down, i find there’s this lingering “what did i do WRONG?” and “there’s got to be A WAY” internal nagfest when in fact there is such a beautiful creative force at work and i’m doing the best i can. thanks for sharing your perspective, jane…

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