I’ve been wanting to write, and the problem has been that there are so many things I’ve been wanting to write about that I fear they will exit the flood gates in a woefully unorganized fashion. I’ve spent most of the morning writing through various thoughts to be placed elsewhere, and caffeinating myself from an espresso machine that dispenses perfectly formed cups of coffee in the push of a button. I can never own one of these. I have enough energy to race around the building after two cups.
That aside, I have an hour before I have to leave for work, and in that hour I really want to write about the unknown. Fear of the unknown, conversation with the unknown, and contentedness with the unknown. And I’m giving myself permission to write about these things, despite how little I have actually engaged in dialogue with them, because how else do you familiarize yourself with something besides entering into conversation about it. For me, for now, that means writing.
I think so many people have heard of that quote by Rilke,
I beg you…to have patience with everything unresolved in your heart and 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 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 ever noticing it, live your way into the answer…
I bought that quote on a magnet earlier this year when I was going through an incredibly difficult and foreign experience. I bought it because I knew that I had no answers or explanations for what had just happened in my life, and that it was so new that it would take me a while to wade through the unknown, and I wanted to remember to sit with those things.
Now I’ve not always remembered to sit with those things. I’ve gotten frustrated to the point of tears over the lack of answers I’ve been able to provide for myself. I’ve been so disgusted with my inability to neatly categorize my experiences that I’ve tried to detach from them, only to have them erupt in very misplaced areas. Of course I’ve had those times where I’ve slowed down, let feelings ebb and flow, let the unknown simply be the unknown… but those times have taken work. Constant reminders and monitoring. It’s been part of my challenge to myself over the past week… to take those necessary first steps but at the same time to ease off on myself. To stop demanding that so much of my time and efforts and evolution be constantly producing efficient results. To stop insisting that I always be able to chart my progress, and instead, to let my life shape itself through those first courageous steps.
I’ve been ever so slowly discovering that the reason I’ve had such a hard time taking those first steps into the unknown is because so far, I’ve refused to acknowledge that somewhere along the way I became a bit terrified of the unknown. A thing I’ve always appreciated about myself is my comfort with change. The excitement I find in changing living arrangements, going to new places, exploring new vocations, learning new things and resting in the comfort that things will work themselves out. If something doesn’t go as I’d planned, an opportunity will always present itself. This is how my life has always gone. So it’s been really hard for me to recognize that this relationship that I had with the unknown had changed from happy-go-lucky acceptance, to tight-fisted refusal to move forward without some kind of predictable outcome.
But my attachment to that fact that I held dear about myself has not prepared me for this truth… that I have become intimidated by those unknowns. That recently I’m tending more towards seeing the possible failures and heartbreaks and humiliations in them rather than anticipating a world of potentialities. And holding on desperately to my former disposition of jumping into the thrill of the new is keeping me from offering up to myself those small bits of support and comfort that might give me the courage to walk more slowly towards those potentials. And maybe that means taking small steps through the unmapped landscape that results from loss. Making slow-paced venture, and allowing myself some excitement over growing possibilities for the future. And most especially, acknowledging that maybe all those things I’ve been afraid of and worrying over and have kept me immobile are of my own making. And that I really am strong enough and deep enough to pull out all the necessary love and forgiveness and curiosity that I need in order to keep taking steps forward.
Phew. Now there’s a lovely thought.