Words to Remember

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

If only we arrange our life
according to that principle that counsels us
that we must always hold difficult,
then that which now seems to us
the most alien will become what we
most trust and find most faithful

– Rilke

I’m not even going to try and top such profound and momentous words. Arrange your life with some aspect of discipline, hold to what you find difficult and you grow through that experience. Pseudo-poetic philosophy is always prone to varying interpretation. Its been a mostly shit year and I’d say that this dogma has been resounding as the nagging, ever-present voice in my head that’s driven me on auto-pilot through most of it. I’m not alone in that journey either. We all have immense amounts of stress and strife in our lives; some of it self-created, the rest of it in the hands of those damnable “Powers-that-be” and totally outside our realm of influence.

I have a friend who has been battling social indignity and prejudice all her life and literally has the resilience of a mountain; this will she has used to craft beautiful art from her pain and experience. Of course there is my partner and confidant, who I was blessed to have had tumble into my once rather-myopic life and who has since showed me just how powerful companionship and trust can be when in the presence of love. I’d be woefully remiss if I didn’t mention my mother and sister too, each a muse in their own right. All of these guides, and without their lessons I would be a shadow of what I am today. No man is an island, blah, blah, blah, yet this wisdom doesn’t resonate with you until you really look back over a fair share of years and realize just how much you’ve been shaped by the past. Particularly the people you’ve met, at least for the sake of this ramble.

The thing about philosophy is that its incredibly introspective and too often singular in its focus. Rilke is an excessive offender of this, all philosophers usually are, as astute as they may be. While what I am about to commit might be seen by some as a literary sin, I’d like to re-interpret Rilke’s immaculate words if I may. Initially I claimed that I would not try to “top” Rilke’s sagacity, and this is true; it would be like painting over a Picasso with crayons and hoping for a more inventive result. Think of this as me sharing his words as I see them, with the meanings that I interpret as I see through my eyes his art.

If only we arrange our life
according to the principles that counsel us
that we must always hold difficult,
viewing in others a mirror to our fortitude,
a song that echoes without end,
then that which now seems to us
the most alien and frightful will become
what we most trust and find most faithful;
we are not only alone
but nurtured in our solitudes

Please don’t send a vengeful spectre to torment me tonight, dear Rilke, I have the best of intentions.

Onto other news. It looks like I’m submitting that story I mentioned in my last post for a rather exciting opportunity, and if it gets picked up that kills the idea of dispensing bits and pieces of it on account of the whole first-print copyright shtick. I’ll do a different work, perhaps an evolving piece based on blog input instead.

I’d also add that the world of editing – of all things literary really – operates on its own clocks and that a certain zen attitude needs to be adopted if you ever hope to have someone peruse your work with a critical eye and/or prepare it for greater exposure. But that’s the point of art isn’t it? To share it. Once you get over the fear of sharing, receiving feedback is easy. At least that’s what I keep telling myself as I wait for the impending conversation regarding my manuscript.

Tonight, I’ll be thumbing through my Rilke lore looking for an excerpt on patience.

Goodnight Loves,
– C