Thursday, September 29, 2011

'Living Your Way into the Answer'

Feet.  (Reilly, 2009)
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
in Letters to a Young Poet
Finding an answer is inherently different than living your way into the answer, especially for matters of the heart.  The first, finding an answer, may well be more a product of impetuous behavior; an attempt to dismiss the ambiguity and uncertainty that seems to frame human dilemma. Think of it as action that  rushes one to a contrived sense of certainty.

The latter is about living deliberately and sometimes coming to notice that you have arrived at the answer without any announcement of such happenings. What happens in the spaces between now and the ubiquitous, then depends a lot on whether you are living atop your feet or trying to navigate an imagined world that has yet to arrive. The it might be world.

Living in the present takes courage, and perhaps for me even practice.  It may well mean losing what I think I need, like money or position, and having to grapple with the attending fear that often masquerades such loss.  I know this firsthand and even alongside experience, fear is a formidable force.  It absolutely means deeply acknowledging that where I am situated offers only a partial and incomplete view of the present, let alone any future.

Not rushing to an answer (any answer at that) allows me to forgo excuses (regardless of how sound they sound) in order to situate a truth: I don't know the future. I do know now. Can I determine for now what makes sense and live on this parcel of land where I place my feet?

Living my way into an answer means forgetting the question and in doing so seeing what is and taking the small rather local steps of being. There is a clarity that accompanies such action and a feeling of being centered. In such a series of moments I have recently come to realize that I have been knowing for a long time without knowing that I have confused salary and position with satisfaction.

It is an important answer and I am most surprised to come to name it. Being satisfied is largely about the nature of work I do, not the salary I am paid.

 Living my way into an answer is about accepting the may ways I am powerless and living deliberately as I might each day.

Be you, as my friend Monika reminds.

Feeling lost, bereft of answers you seek?  Look down and make sure you can still see your feet. 

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