On my love for Rilke

It brings both bewilderment and relief to discover, through the beautiful solitude which arises in the company of books, that once upon a time there worked a verbal soul that so closely mimics one’s own contemplations. A poet and writer who too failed to honor the tried and tested; who lived in hope of escaping the monotone and in his escape discovered the unlimited capacity we largely fail to engage:

That is at bottom the only courage that is demanded of us; to have courage for the most strange the most singular, and the most inexplicable that we may encounter … But fear of the inexplicable has not alone impoverished the existence of the individual; the relationship between one human being and another has also been cramped by it, as though it had been lifted out of the riverbed of endless possibilities and set down in a fallow spot on the bank, to which nothing happens. For it is not inertia alone that is responsible for human relationships repeating themselves from case to case, indescribably monotonous and unrenewed; it is shyness before any sort of new, unforeseeable experience with which one does not think oneself able to cope. 

~ Rainer Maria Rilke, Fear of the Inexplicable, reading in April 2019

What for Rilke is the riverbed of endless possibilities for me is the symbol of continuity in repetition of the tried and tested:

Those are the rivulets of thought that slowly (at geological pace, perhaps) creep into the surfaces of the internal vacuum, popping out like veins in harsh exertion. Tiny, precarious gorges of unexpected thought, of the realisation that life is so much more than a tried and tested progression. From the monolithic riverbed I see the intricate network illuminate in each direction with its countless feeble paths, those ideas and aspirations conceived but unattempted.

~ myself, May 2018

Where he sees the monotone as a static wallow along the bank, I see it in motion along the uniform canyon that tradition and custom have forged into the collective consciousness; for life and time move forward even if guided along constant parameters. Where Rilke sees the riverbed as the source of possibility, for me this arrives further downstream where the surges and currents have calmed to a delta of countless interconnected rivulets that one may choose to navigate. Choosing to do so carries with it the fear of a dead end, of the unknown conclusion that may well see you trapped in shallow sand. And yet, it is only in this uncertainty that I find solace; in the indication that one may choose truth or trap, and that the choice itself embodies all that makes life more than just coincidence or replicated recurrence.

To fear not life’s unpredictabilities;
To embrace and release into its unknown;
To comprehend that all is us and we are all
And that our own solitary mind is what spawns and curbs the bloody wounds
We so readily attribute to the hands of others.

I plead that you should not read this as a conceitful attempt to equate myself in any way to the genius of Rilke. Rather, I intend to observe the lover I have found in him; one who pours into the chalice of my creativity; who mirrors my contemplations and understandings a century in the past and who shines a light on the universality of my concerns;  evading time and space and echoing back through that unlimited capacity which will forever guard the humanity in us.

Yours,
Sia

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Extracting thoughts of worth …

… as I finally revisit my handwritten musings.

Excerpts from my journal, March – May of 2018.

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Be it bitter or unexpected, sweet or anticipated, we must learn to laugh with, or at, the twists and turns and instantaneous alternations that are so often the work of others. 

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In what things do I (you) find purpose, and what things find purpose in me (you)? 

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Those are the rivulets of thought that slowly (at geological pace, perhaps) creep into the surfaces of the internal vacuum, popping out like veins in harsh exertion. Canyons of unexpected thought, of the realisation that life is so much more than a tried and tested progression. From the monolithic riverbed I see the intricate network illuminate in each direction with its countless feeble paths, those ideas and aspirations conceived but unattempted.

‘I feel a thousand capacities spring up in me … I am rooted but I flow.’
Virginia Woolf, The Waves 

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I must permit the words that flow out to relieve the pulsating substance within me that floats and grows and folds within itself and out.

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The woes of a generation manifest themselves in the microcosm of my own inadequacies. 

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The worst thing about hope is that it soothes the unwieldy centre of emotion with the balm of expectation, a balm which turns to poison should life get in the way.

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I have no story to tell but my own and I shall do so truthfully. 

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Though the goal is to remain uncomplicated, the future swarms round restful states like the unforgiving wasps of Berlin’s late summer. 

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Generation emoji lays prisoner and victim to an anxiety bread by the incessant quantification of closeness. 

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Each silence, each unanswered whisper breaks the brittle beating core of my benign existence.

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I love to think and think of love. 

~

Дали колебанието някога спира?

Сигурно в някой отдалечен момент, когато животът е изживян и всички постижения и стремежи принадлежат на миналото.

Дали само тогава човек е сигурен в това, което прави, или това е просто моментът, в който всичко губи значение?

Дали някога тези накъсани мисли ще се слеят в нещо по-единно, едно истинско произведение във формат неконкретен?

Или завинаги ще останат тук, плод и заложник на съмнението и несигурността?

Поне едно е ясно – мислите, тефтера и написаното на ръка са дезориентираното начало на това, което може би никога няма да бъде.

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Ако листата на плачещата върба са сълзите ѝ, то тогава тъгата би следвало да окапва през зимата. А пък се случва точно обратното.

~

Today, a confession …

… that I dwell more comfortably in sorrow than I do in joy.

Happiness and positivity, those habitual mantras, are void and null without the presence of profound sorrow; it is this exquisite state that constitutes the sole reference against which joy may bounce. The way death defines life and life defines death too is part of this self-validating dance of the binary, with either outcome inextricably linked to the other’s existence.

My conscious life began with suffering. Long before infinity and mortality should have been concepts for a young mind to contemplate, my gentleness was plunged into that vacuum where tears and sleep were all that rendered emotion effectual, or bearable. I embraced the unembraceable and settled in the place where my suffering could equate to love; the place where it could fill the chasm of all the things I would have said and done with a sadness so pure it revealed to me the inherently spiritual genesis of human emotion. And so I stayed there, for a while.

Such sorrow is companion for life (I will die with it by my side), even as the episodes of complete surrender begin to abate. Once less than incessant, spiritual suffering slowly gives way to nothingness; to a flatness where down and hence up and vice versa are no longer upheld. There stands the barren wasteland of no binaries and no existence – a void where mental exertion remains the only thing that makes you human. The terrifying feeling of neither 1 or 0, yes or no and the sense that this may never change. There I stood, trapped where no emotion is present so as to manifest its opposite.

The ones who persevere shall eventually overcome the emptiness and return to those pairs locked in perpetual self-definition. Having made it through the hollow abyss I remain forever conscious that the joy I feel is borne out of my intimate companion, my sorrow; and that whilst I may have mastered the exquisite pain, in happiness I am but a fledgling. All which I feel, which may appear exaggerated or ‘uncool’ (to degrade the language to the exhausted level of millennial expression) springs from the terrifying nothingness I carried for so long. No longer empty, I shall not for a second regret that I spoke passionately of how I care for or admire you, as anything is better than naught; and I shall never shy away from that profound sadness, for joy can spring from nothing else.

Yours,
Sia

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