05 March 2014

Letters from Rilke

...have patience with all unsolved problems in your heart and to try to love the questions themselves like locked rooms, or books that are written in a foreign tongue. Do not search now for the answers, which cannot be given you, because you could not live them. That is the point, to live everything. Now you must live your problems. And perhaps gradually, without noticing it, you will live your way into the answer some distant day.

-from a letter of Rainer Maria Rilke

As one who loves to write and as one who has many unanswered questions (well, who doesn't?), Rainer Rilke's letters are so inspiring. Not because they provide answers but because they remind me that it is okay to live all those unanswered questions.

Written between 1903-1904 this collection of letters is called Letters to a Young Poet, and I feel like Rilke is writing these letters today, to me. I am already a fan of his poetry (and wish I could read it all in the original German) and I find myself gravitating to my books of his poetry pretty often. These words he writes as encouragement to a distant friend who is a poet are oftentimes read by me when some wise words are needed.

Nobody writes real letters these days. It is a forgotten method of sharing deep thoughts, trials, encouragement, and ideas with one another and I think we are missing out. Sure we have email and social media to share thoughts with the world, but it is not the same as sitting thoughtfully with a blank sheet of paper and writing it out by hand. I argue that there is something therapeutic about writing thoughts out with a pen. That is why I prefer to journal in that way.

But I also admit that I don't write as many letters as I would like to.

We are subjects in a modern world with modern conveniences that somehow speed things up but don't slow us down. So I will be taking a few minutes to slow down and read some excellent and encouraging letters by Rilke.

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