When words are true, they are timeless. So it is that a collection of ten letters written from 1903-1908 by poet Rainer Maria Rilke to an aspiring young poet continue to circulate en masse. Collected in a simple volume entitled Letters to a Young Poet, these letters serve an almost Biblical function for many people, especially artists. Personally, I have continued to refer back to my copy over the years, and in contrast to ephemeral pop songs, the hooks of Rilke’s letters seem to increase in their power over of time. While the letters are better read directly and completely than interpreted contextually, I want to highlight one passage in this introductory post. It is a passage that seems to sum up the very thrust of life.
“…I would like to beg you dear Sir, as well as I can, to have patience with everything unresolved in your heart and to try to love the questions themselves as if they were locked rooms or books written in a very foreign language. Don’t search for the answers, which could not be given to you now, because you would not be able to live them. And the point is to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps then, someday far in the future, you will gradually, without even noticing it, live your way into the answer.”
(Rainer Maria Rilke, 1903)
It is with this spirit of living the questions that I provide further commentary (“notes”) as I have them. After all, as evidenced by these turn of the century pen pals, it is in the shared nature of living the questions that the pursuit transcends the struggle of individual battling and becomes a pleasurable practice.