Tuesday, March 30, 2010

"...love the questions..."

"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
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~

Have you ever felt impatient with seemingly unsolvable questions in your heart and mind? Have you ever entertained the option, as expressed in this well-known quote of Rilke, to "love and live the questions themselves"?  I  appreciate how he assures us that by so doing ... perhaps ... one day ... we will live our way into the answers.

Has that ever happened for you?  That by simply loving and living with the question the answer has appeared of its own accord down the road?  It is another example of being able to accept 'what is'.  The question is there - with no answer in sight ...  can we accept it and live with it or do we (I, you) rush to premature resolution - with perhaps inadequate information or experience?

My life seems to have been one of living the questions - less because I chose to - more because I had to ...
The benefit of that (living with so many unanswered questions) was that I learned to tolerate ambiguity.  As much as our minds would like to believe 'it' is either 'this' or 'that' - life is not that simple.  There is rarely any one, singular truth.  I think that is why I love the words - shades, hues, variations, nuance, subtle, edge, degree, grey, refine, process, scale, level ... Think of all the beauty and wisdom we miss if we see/hear/think in black and white.  Think of all the wiggle room available - to test, try, improvise, explore, learn, adapt, grow - when we do not jump immediately to the obvious answer, but instead opt to live with the question for a while.


  1. Oh ackkkkk..yes yes and yes!!Staying present is a challange...especially when I am trying to resolve something..something that takes time and needs patience to see the answers..yes...I struggle with this..am struggling with this.! Wonderful post hon!! Hugs, Sarah

    Oh the pooch...what a sweetie!!!

  2. I don't understand, Bonnie, what you and Rilke mean by living the question. Remaining in the here and now? Is that the puzzle? If so, then that has long been the best advice for anyone living this life.

    I think i will have to go back and read this post again and possibly find the original text too. See you later.

  3. Beautiful post Bonnie, so glad I didn't miss it. Thank You for the Birthday Wishes.
    A very devoted reader...Wanda

  4. bonnie, what a beautiful post! i have to constantly remind myself to stay present. i drift way too much into the past & future. i am working hard at being grounded and accepting that things are just the way they are. no need to force life, right?
    thanks for the comfort. :)

  5. Sarah: Thanks - I'm always reminding myself when the 'answer' doesn't appear that Rilke said to 'live your way into the answer' ...

    Hope you are feeling better dear Sarah.

  6. Hi Friko: I'd love to hear how you translate that passage from the original language.

    Sometimes we have the questions before we are prepared to hear the answers ... I have seen this in group therapy and individual therapy. The therapist makes a connection or a suggestion and although the client has been 'banging their head against a wall trying to figure things out' - their ego filters out the answer so that they literally do not hear it. Later, as they develop strength or time passes or whatever ... they hear it and say, "Well why didn't you tell me that sooner?!"

    I think Rilke is asking us to embrace what is and what is is that we may never have the answers to some of our deepest questions ... Can we embrace life with the 'not knowing' ...?

    What do you think Rilke is saying??? I know you have an opinion.

  7. Wanda: Thank you - I try never to miss your posts either!

  8. Myan...zuppaartista: Thanks. I think that is such a good way of putting it - to not try to force life ... (I've often been guilty of that!!)

  9. I've certainly been guilty of rejecting perfectly acceptable and honest answers prematurely given; only to discover days, or months or years later that they had been right.

    Either I wasn't ready for the answer or the questions needed to marinate a while longer.

  10. I can agree with this post in so many ways. Staying present, but also realizing that what we want to know is not necessarily the time that is best for us to know. By being patient, we are at ease with unanswered questions, trusting in the unfolding.

    Good one.

  11. Oh yes, the Universe is an inventive teacher, often displaying such a sense of humor. And learning to tolerate a lack of certainty or ambiguity is a hard lesson, I think, particularly for those of us who think that we can just reason our way through any uncertainty or muddle.

  12. so i know i am still suppoed to be offline for day but had to let you know i got the most gorgeous picture in the mail yesterday. it rocks. we have hung it in the hall. the boys love it as well.

    questions...got plenty...and at times it is a struggle, but usually when i come to peace with it, the answers quickly follow...

  13. Ok, I have to comment here ;-))) I love your greensih adventure.
    There is a fairie looking at me through the lushness of green. Curious and mischieviously. I love it.

  14. Love this post ... have long loved the Rilke quote. it is an important (and challenging)esson ...being content to be patient with the unfolding of life. When I was younger I sooo wanted to 'know' how things would turn out ... i was that song lyric...'will I be married? will i be rich?' I just wanted to know, so that i could relax. Eventually I learned to relax in spite of not knowing ... and being 'ok' with the process of living the question, waiting for the 'unfolding' in its time. It is also about makeing good, and authentic choices in the waiting time ...we are not as helpless as we may feel as we let go of the outcome. That is when we are empowered to accept the 'what is' with inner peace.
    Thanks Bonnie for the opportunity to reflect on this... I am a faithful follower of your blog ... and a former Montrealer now living in the Maritimes.


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