High city hills! Great marvels of architecture that the steep slopes secure and make even greater, motley chaos of heaped up buildings that the daylight dapples with bright spots and shadows – you are today, you are me, because I see you, you are what you won’t be tomorrow, and I love you from the deck rail as when two ships pass, and there’s a mysterious longing and regret in their passing.
Fernando Pessoa, The Book of Disquiet
In my life, weekly waves of doubt and anxiety follow others of confidence and certainty. Contentment and whispers of joy lie in the acceptance of this cycle, and at times I have one certainty only: no one knows anything for certain; no one, nothing on the outside can help – one must feel patiently, silently toward the inside.
This inward questioning applies to clearly delineated questions such as “is my art ‘good enough’?” but also to those other ones which lie dormant when we are confident and energetic. There is the one at the very bottom of existence: “Who am I?”.
Rilke wrote of this in the context of art:
You ask whether your verses are good. You ask me. You have asked others before. You send them to magazines. You compare them with other poems, and you are disturbed when certain editors reject your efforts. Now (since you have allowed me to advise you) I beg you to give up all that. You are looking outward, and that above all you should not do now. Nobody can counsel and help you, nobody. There is only one single way. Go into yourself.
Rainer Maria Rilke, Letters to a Young Poet
When my eldest son was about four, as he went to bed one night he asked me “Who am I?”. I said you are [name]. He said: “I know my name, but who AM I?”. I was dumbstruck by his insight.
Knowledge is most useful in dealing with things. But it does not tell you how to deal with people and yourself, how to life a life. We are not talking of driving a car, earning money. For this you need experience. But for being a light onto yourself material knowledge will not help you. You need something more intimate and deeper than mediate knowledge, to be your self in the true sense of the word. Your outer life is unimportant – you can become a night-watchman and live happily. It is what you are inwardly that matters. [I am That (66)]
I already quoted the following poem in an earlier post, but cannot resist doing it again today:
Behind Closed Doors After teaching and preaching running about for so many years, Now I've shut my door and retired to the hidden forest spring. Having kicked open heaven and earth I can now rest my feet. Alone I sit before the winter window, the shimmering moon full. translated by Beata Grant, in Daughters of Emptiness
Thanks for stopping by!