July 7, 2008

The strangely certain steps of our blindness

Blogging has been slow over the long weekend (Independence Day here in the US) as I went white-water rafting and camping on Saturday/Sunday and am hosting some friends from Sunday evening onwards... but I'll be back soon.

For now, here are a few quotes for the day, all gleaned from The Poet's Guide to Life, a wonderful collection of quotes by Rainer Maria Rilke, as collected by Ulrich Baer from almost 7000 of Rilke's letters.

The whole book is quotable but I'll have to resist the temptation and just transcribe a baker's dozen worth of random quotes here. The rest you can enjoy through the book. Since I have too many books and rarely read the ones I have, I have stopped buying books in the past few years but this one's worth buying!
To be a part, that is fulfillment for us: to be integrated with our solitude into a state that can be shared.

All disagreement and misunderstanding originate in the fact that people search for commonality within themselves instead of searching for it in the things behind them, in the light, in the landscape, in beginning and in death. By so doing they lose themselves and gain nothing in turn.

The strings of sorrow may only be used extensively if one vows to play on them also at a later point and in their particular key all of the joyousness that accumulates behind everything that is difficult, painful and that we had to suffer, and without which the voices are not complete.

After all, life is not even close to being as logically consistent as our worries; it has many more unexpected ideas and faces than we do.

If we wish to be let in on the secrets of life, we must be mindful of two things: first, there is the great melody to which things and scents, feelings and past lives, dawns and dreams contribute in equal measure, and then there are the individual voices that complete and perfect this full chorus. And to establish the basis for a work of art, that is, for an image of life lived more deeply, lived more than life as it is lived today, and as the possibility that it remains throughout the ages, we have to adjust and set into their proper relation these two voices: the one belonging to a specific moment and the other to the group of people living in it.

Each experience has its own velocity according to which it wants to be lived if it is to be new, profound, and fruitful. To have wisdom means to discover this velocity in each individual case.

My God, how magnificent life is precisely owing to its unforeseeability and to the often so strangely certain steps of our blindness.

How numerous and manifold is everything that is yet to come, and how differently it all surfaces and how differently it all passes from the way we expect. How poor we are in imagination, fantasy, and expectation, how lightly and superficially we take ourselves in making plans, only for reality then to arrive and play its melodies on us.

You have to live life to the limit, not according to each day but according to its depth. One does not have to do what comes next if one feels a greater affinity with that which happens later, at a remove, even in a remote distance. One may dream while others are saviors if these dreams are more real to oneself than reality and more necessary than bread. In a word: one ought to turn the most extreme possibility inside oneself into the measure for one’s life, for our life is vast and can accommodate as much future as we are able to carry.

Life has long since preempted every later possible impoverishment through its astoundingly immeasurable riches. So what is there for us to be afraid of? Only that this should be forgotten! But all around us, within us, how many ways of helping us remember!

Wishes are the memories coming from our future!

It is not possible to have an adequate image of how inexhaustible the expansiveness and possibilities of life are. No fate, no rejection, no hardship is entirely without prospects; somewhere the densest shrub can yield leaves, a flower, a fruit. And somewhere in God's furthest providence there surely exists already an insect that will gather riches from this flower or a hunger that will be sated by this fruit. And if this fruit is bitter it will have astonished at least one eye, and will have provided it pleasure and have triggered curiosity for the shapes and colors and crops of the shrub. And if the fruit were to fall, it would fall into the abundance of that which is yet to come. Even in its final decay it contributes to this future by turning it into more abundant, more colorful, and more urgent growth.

What we all need most urgently now: to realize that transience is not separation - for we, transient as we are, have it in common with those who have passed from us, and they and we exist together in one being where separation is just as unthinkable. Could we otherwise understand such poems if they had been nothing but the utterance of someone who was going to be dead in the future? Don't such poems continually address inside of us, in addition to what is found there now, also something unlimited and unrecognizable? I do not think that the spirit can make itself anywhere so small that it would concern only our temporal existence and our here and now: where it surges toward us there we are the dead and the living all at once.

Like I said... every quote in the book is quotable. I am going to try hard not to blog again with quotes from this book again; though I KNOW I will be tempted as I read more of the book.

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