”You see, I want a lot. Perhaps I want everything.”
Rilke wrote these words around a hundred years ago somewhere in middle Europe, somewhere in the middle of his life. There are moments in life when you want a lot, perhaps everything. Perhaps you want happiness, or laughter or senseless, ridiculous joy for no other reason than to just feel what it feels like to fly through the air without any cares, like being on a big scary ride at a carnival when you were nine.
Or perhaps you have forgotten how it feels to simply be happy for its own sake, and then you become as ”many live on and want nothing, and are raised to the rank of prince by the slippery ease of their light judgments.” These are words to ponder.
Life comes to us, unbidden. We cannot control it, even though we are deluded enough to think that somehow we can. Things happen. People come to and go from us, we love, hate, judge, act, hold out, hold off, deny, say yes, say no, cry, laugh, despise, resent, grieve, hold hope, give up hope.
What do you do when you cannot find hope inside your heart? When the world becomes so heavy that all you wish to do is to lay it all down, give it all up, stop carrying the load. Maybe it is a picture of someone’s face that you love, or lyrics to a song or a favorite old melody from childhood that cracks you open. Or a memory creeps into your mind from so long ago you thought you had completely forgotten that day, that joy, all that laughing, the dancing on the beach, arms spread wide to embrace the sun, the sand, the blazing wind on your face, the scent of the ocean like when you lay in the primordial womb. Maybe once you were deliriously happy, yet even in the middle of it you knew. You knew that it was only a moment, a single beautiful moment that would pass as all the rest, that no matter how much you wanted, you could never hold onto it. The night would pass, other days would come, other moments with other people, other places, you would get older, life would change you. You knew all this, and yet you still loved, you opened your heart knowing that the day would come when it would bleed again.
This is the meaning of poetry and of all great works of art: to take a moment, and make it immortal, at least as much as you can. We write prose, poems and songs to express the ineffable, yet somehow knowable. We walk around the edges of it, run our fingers across its bumps and smoothness, taste it with our tongues, peer at it with our eyes, listen to its sounds and breathe in its scent. Sometimes we find brilliance there and manage to convey it. Then 200 or 2000 years later, others still hear, read or can look at it too. Mostly our lives are as fleeting as the clouds, they move and shift, swirling white patterns in the vast blue universe. When the sun shines upon us, we receive Grace. When the clouds turn dark and the rain comes, we bow our heads and walk through it, maybe with an umbrella, maybe not. It doesn’t matter. There is absolutely nothing we can do but to say Yes. To it all. Yes.
- one of my favorites: rilke (literaryitinerary.wordpress.com)
- Everything will be okay in the end… (daftaremowj.wordpress.com)