live the questions now


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Living the questions may not be easy but it is necessary.

In the great silence of these distances, I am touched by your beautiful anxiety about life, even more than I was in Paris, where everything echoes and fades away differently because of the excessive noise that makes Things tremble. Here, where I am surrounded by an enormous landscape, which the winds move across as they come from the seas, here I feel that there is no one anywhere who can answer for you those questions and feelings which, in their depths, have a life of their own; for even the most articulate people are unable to help, since what words point to is so very delicate, is almost unsayable.
But even so, I think that you will not have to remain without a solution if you trust in Things that are like the ones my eyes are now resting upon. If you trust in Nature, in the small Things that hardly anyone sees and that can so suddenly become huge, immeasurable; if you have this love for what is humble and try very simply, as someone who serves, to win the confidence of what seems poor: then everything will become easier for you, more coherent and somehow more reconciling, not in your conscious mind perhaps, which stays behind, astonished, but in your innermost awareness, awakeness, and knowledge.
You are so young, so much before all beginning, and 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. Perhaps you do carry within you the possibility of creating and forming, as an especially blessed and pure way of living; train yourself for that — but take whatever comes, with great trust, and as long as it comes out of your will, out of some need of your innermost self, then take it upon yourself.
–Rainer Maria Rilke, from “Letters to a Young Poet”

life is in the right, always


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I try everyday to live my life with trust, faith and acceptance with what is and less of what I want it to be. It’s not always so easy to do and dealing with my control freak within is an ongoing, constant battle! But, and there is always a but, there are words of wisdom that exist from those who have lived and gone before us. Rilke, is one of them for me, and his words below help me with trusting life; maybe they will for you too? Wherever you are today, I wish you meaningful, fulfilling and blessed hours.

What should I say about your tendency to doubt your struggle or to harmonize your inner and outer life? My wish is ever strong that you find enough patience within you and enough simplicity to have faith. May you gain more and more trust in what is challenging, and confidence in the solitude you bear. Let life happen to you. Believe me: life is in the right in any case.

Furnborg, Jonsered, Sweden, November 4, 1904
Letters to a Young Poet

dukkha


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This morning with sleepy eyes, I read a helpful article, courtesy of Facebook.  Not all articles I read are helpful but this one was.  It was basically very simple, 3 Buddhist beliefs (there’s always 3, or 7 or 10 principles that can magically transform your life but these 3, I liked) that could speak to us all universally, regardless if we practiced Buddhism in our lives or not.  Last night my heart was heavy when I went to bed, but I held on to the knowing that had proven true in the past — in that nothing stays the same and all things shift.  Sometimes clichés, tediously over-used as they can be, do offer some solace.  So this morning I did indeed awake to a lighter sense of being, and it wasn’t because I hadn’t had breakfast yet; I don’t normally anyway, not till I get in to work.  But it was lighter because I read this helpful article.  Carrie, I think, shared it on her Facebook page.

Anyway, the article.  It talked about life, this glorious thing called LIFE; it being painful and causes suffering.  Dukkha as it’s known.  A word used by Buddhists, but not just Buddhists as it is also used by many others in their own languages. It isn’t saying, albeit pessimistically, that life is suffering, so end of and deal with it.  I told someone recently that I’ve started this blog, started writing online and I told him that it was mostly about life, love and bastards!  I laughed a little when I said it and I could hear the smile in his voice.  He said ‘well, that’s life isn’t it?!’ I guess he’s right, to an extent.  It is not ALL there is to life, no, I’d like to believe there are good things too.  But it is the acceptance of the more challenging emotions and experiences, that makes life, life.

Loss, anxiety, sadness, heartache, they appear and then disappear, only to reappear again. Like a trusted friend. Like a familiar shadow. Like a bad smell.  So I know this.  Yet I suffer. Why? I’m not just a sucker for punishment.  I don’t find happiness in my unhappiness so I ask myself why.   Why does society suffer with difficult emotions?  Why was Prozac nation born?  Why hasn’t it died? Why do we avoid or supress difficult emotions with anything we can get our hands on – fluoxetine, Ritalin, Paxil, Citalopram, Xanax, Valium, pinot, shiraz, merlot, crack, popcorn etc.?  We actually end up creating even more suffering in our lives by trying to avoid or suppress these troubling emotions that cause us to suffer so. We know all this but yet we reach out for things that suppress these troubling feelings; to numb ourselves, to medicate, to not feel.

So yes, our lives are inevitably filled with things we rather not go through, but we can’t stop it, well not permanently anyway.  All fixes are quick fixes and the results merely fleeting. Maybe, just maybe, there’s nothing to fear? Society in large is partly to be blamed for the idea that life should be easy and pain free. When I say society, I am referring to the media, pharmaceutical companies, fashion magazines, cosmetic surgeries, cosmetic surgeons, reality TV, them lot.  The ones who try and brainwash you in thinking that you are one messed up individual but HEY, YOU CAN BE FIXED FOR A PRICE!  And for those of us who buy that, who believe that, and on a level we all do and more so when we are alone and vulnerable and in a dark place, we therefore think if we are not experiencing the ‘good life’ then we must be broken.  I must be broken.  I must be flawed, messed up on some deep, unrepairable, level.

But then again society is also made up of You and Me (and Marley). The ones who care and think deeply about stuff and who want to do some good with the time we have on this planet and be kind not just to ourselves, but to each other.

So to the person who told me that writing about life, love and … is, well, part of life, I thank you!  You may never see this but I’d like to say that I don’t fear these things any-more.  I don’t fear (not as much) my suffering nor seek answers where they can’t be found because all of this futile attempts keeps me in a hole I have no wish to spend my life in. I have learnt, I continue to learn.  I am not buying into the idea that I’m broken (neither are you by the way).  I’m trying to accept life on its terms, trusting that life is always in the right because deep down, in spite of what I may think, feel or wish for, life IS in the right.  And one day I’ll know why and how this is true.  But one day is a long way away.  I need something now.  So for today I’ll remind myself to say hello to imperfection, give a nod to the things unresolved, open my heart to uncertainty and try not to close off, to live with my many questions that reside in my heart. I hear Rilke’s words of wisdom whisper quietly to me now as I type this.  So I’ll end with his words that have helped me.  I have his quote on a fridge magnet.  It’s on my fridge (!) and has been for the last 13 years.  I am no poet, no Rilke, nor writer, but I must say that damn, it has felt good to get all of this stuff, onto a page (or two). If you’re still here with me, thank you for your company. I wish you well.

“Be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves, like locked rooms and like books that are now written in a very foreign tongue. Do not now seek the answers, which cannot be given you because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps you will then gradually, without noticing it, live along some distant day into the answer.”

love, after love and i guess, self-love


derek4

A great quote from poet, Donte Collins. 

It has been insightful writing about the various shades of Love in February – thank you for sharing the journey with me with your thoughtful comments.  I have no doubt that I will continue to talk about Love in the days that lie before me but for now, and to conclude the theme for this month’s blog posts, I have chosen this piece by Derek Walcott, Love after Love.

I’ve chosen it because it speaks to me about self-Love, one of the most important (and difficult) aspects of Love. It is certainly something that’s taking me a while to learn.  It’s easy, sometimes, to love another, more than yourself.  If you think of the ways you’ve treated yourself over the years, put yourself through, you will see that you’ve been unkind in gestures you would never have dreamt of doing to another. Yet you’ve tolerated this harshness to your Self over the years, over and over again. Beaten yourself up black and blue.

I received Walcott’s poem in the dark, quiet, early morning hours by email. I like that time of the day when things are still and silent around me. At first I thought of that song by Cher but then realised this was quite different. His poem reminded me of all the ways and areas of my life that I am trying to understand. To me, his words are about a deeper sense of meaning; a coming back to yourself, a return to self as such.

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Walcott gently reminds me of my slow lessons when it comes to learning about “stillness”; and to just be with what it is. To stop do-ing. To let go. To have faith. To trust. To let life happen to me. As Rilke once said “Believe me: life is in the right in any case”.

But there’s something else.

It also brings up the notion of ‘waiting’.

Carrie Hilgert, http://carriehilgert.com/ as some of you may know, is one of my favourite bloggers.  She not only writes, but paints beautifully:

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She recently said this about waiting which I feel is so apt, so right, and so true:

“Waiting is the hardest thing for me. Waiting for the sadness to pass, waiting for something exciting to happen, waiting for results of my hard work. I have a friend who says that waiting might be one of the hardest things we face as humans.”

And so in this process of just be-ing, in my waiting, I’m trying to love the not-quite-a-stranger within myself.  She has been with me all my life — my 3-year old, my 6, my 10, my 13, my 16, my 18, my 21, my 30, and so on, and I am accepting all of her (even the ones I’ve not met yet, thanks Chris from More than Enough) quietly, lovingly, gently, as if for the first time. She (or he) is after all the stranger who has loved you, all your life. Derek Walcott describes this process of self-recognition and acceptance so well, so powerfully. I hope you feel it too.

Love After Love

The time will come
when, with elation
you will greet yourself arriving
at your own door, in your own mirror
and each will smile at the other’s welcome,

and say, sit here. Eat.
You will love again the stranger who was your self.
Give wine. Give bread. Give back your heart
to itself, to the stranger who has loved you

all your life, whom you ignored
for another, who knows you by heart.
Take down the love letters from the bookshelf,

the photographs, the desperate notes,
peel your own image from the mirror.
Sit. Feast on your life.

If you like to know, here’s further research on the man who wrote the poem as mentioned and written in the uncarved blog by Ken Chawkin:

Derek Walcott is an amazing man, an artist, poet, professor and playwright. Acknowledged as the greatest living poet in the English language, he won the Nobel prize for Literature in 1992. He taught at Boston University for 20 years. Turns out he also taught in Canada. In 2009, Walcott began a three-year distinguished scholar-in-residence position at the University of Alberta. In 2010, he became Professor of Poetry at the University of Essex.

Born in Saint Lucia, Derek Walcott was influenced by his mixed racial and cultural heritage. He married a Trinidadian, raised a family there, and built the Trinidad Theatre Workshop. For someone who was in search of his own identity, both as a person and an artist, this poem represents a coming back to one’s essential self. It resonates deeply with the thousands who have read it. It was first published in Sea Grapes, and later in Derek Walcott, Collected Poems, 1948-1984, and The Poetry of Derek Walcott 1948-2013.

Listen to this excellent July 13, 2014 BBC Radio 4 interview where Nobel Laureate poet Derek Walcott talks about his life and work at home on St Lucia: Derek Walcott: A Fortunate Traveller (28 mins).

A Blessing of Solitude by John O’Donohue, from Anam Cara: A Book of Celtic Wisdom, profoundly complements this theme by Derek Walcott.

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Be kind to yourselves and let your weekend be kind to you.

the one; is there the one?


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I read a really lovely article and thought I’d share it here with you. It may be helpful and put things perspective if you’re looking for “the one” person to share your life with.

Often, and because we are human, we tend to overcomplicate matters especially when it comes to Love. Often, the answers are so simple and easy.

So do away with your lists, and trust instead in the wise voice within and your soul.

As Rilke once said:

“Believe in a love that is being stored up for you like an inheritance, and have faith that in this love there is a strength and a blessing so large that you can travel as far as you wish without having to step outside it.”

In the meantime the article below may help. Enjoy reading and be kind to yourselves and each other.

The One. The one. Is there a One?

And if there is how will I know? And what if I’m wrong? And what if there’s really two or three or…

We humans complicate things so. There are many animals who mate for life and don’t lose sleep trying to figure out if their mate is the only one. Wolves for example. And coyotes, those wild wild nocturnal maniacs—yes, they have it all figured out.

Owls, beavers, eagles, swans, cranes, pigeons, hawks, ospreys, geese and some apes are a few more. My guess is that they don’t spend 10 minutes asking themselves if they have made the right choice or if something better awaits them right around the the next corner.

They just know.

For years I have seen articles that describe in great detail how to know if our beloved is the one. I have read articles and books that strongly suggest that if I answer, “No” to any of their questions I might be in the wrong relationship. Books that ask hundreds of questions and no matter how you answer them you put the book down feeling like you just ate rotten fish and wondering what you ever saw in this person you love anyway.

We talk to friends and therapists and priests and experts. We take quizzes online and haunt the self help aisles in bookstores and libraries. We look for “signs” and ask question after question.

Does she make you feel…?

Does he say…?

Does he have…?

Does she give you…?

Can he read your mind?

Do you speak the same love language?

And oh my God, what do you mean he forgot your birthday?

It really is so much more simple than all of that and it all boils down to two very simple questions.

1. Do I love this person?

Not, is this person hot or sexy or fun; not, do I enjoy this person; not, are we compatible; not, is it a good idea— but, do I really and truly love this person? Would I give them half of my paycheck, the last bite, my car or…a kidney? Is it that kind of love?

If the answer is yes then you’re already more than halfway there. Real love is motivation for growth and understanding and compassion. Real love drives us to be better people who rise above petty difficulties and fleeting emotions. People who do whatever it takes to nurture what we hold dear, kidney donation or not.

2. Are both my life and my partner’s life better because of our relationship?

Sit back, put your feet up, close your eyes, imagine your life without your beloved and ask yourself: How would I live without this person? How would I feel? How would I spend my time? Would I feel full? Would I feel empty? Would I sleep well or would I lie awake longing?

Who would I confide in? Who would I spend my time with? Who would lift me up when I am down? Who would be my rock? Is my love my best friend? What would I do on Saturday night or Tuesday afternoon or everyday for the rest of my life if this person disappeared from my world?

A thousand questions could follow and we should be mindful of how we would answer them but not get too caught up in the details. We need to keep it simple. We need to put aside all secondary emotions like envy, put aside fear and attachment and know that no matter what happens we will survive. With a pure, courageous, open heart we need to ask the simple question: How would my life be without this person I call my love?

I’m not suggesting that we settle for an unhealthy relationship, nor am I suggesting that there is necessarily only one one. I am saying that we complicate things with mountains of questions which can create doubt and confusion. Sometimes the answer is obvious if we simplify. If we can take a step back and answer these two questions honestly and fearlessly I believe the answer as to whether we should be with our chosen one, or not, will be obvious. If we really and truly-give-up-a-kidney-kind of love our partner and we recognize that our lives are better as a team then with a little attention and a lot of commitment everything else will fall into place.

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the panther


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His gaze, forever blocked by bars,
is so exhausted it takes in nothing else.
All that exists for him are a thousand
bars.
Beyond the thousand bars, no world.

The strong, supple pacing
moves in narrowing circles.
It is a dance at whose centre
a great will is imprisoned.

Now and again the veil over his pupils
silently lifts.  An image enters,
pierces the numbness,
and dies away in his heart.

The Panther (subtitled: In Jardin des Plantes, Paris) is a poem by Rainer Maria Rilke written on 6 November 1902.[1] It describes a captured panther behind bars, as it was exhibited in the Jardin des Plantes in Paris. It is one of Rilke’s most famous poems.

This poem made me feel quite emotional for some reason.

I’m drawn to the image of the panther, its strength, its prowess, its power.  I’m also drawn to the ‘bars’ Rilke talks about which reminds me of actual bars on a person’s window such as that found in prisons or immigration removal detention centres.  The bars could also be seen to be invisible but existing nevertheless — bars that surround us all in everyday lives (our golden hand-cuffs).

When the poem is read from the perspective of the panther, we are able to feel the panther’s imprisonment and the endless helplessness that he feels within the cage he has been locked. The empty void that lies beyond the cage is emphasized along with the stagnancy of the beast. Rilke writes, “a mighty will stands paralyzed”, indicating the great abilities of the panther but his utter inability to escape the environment into which he has been placed.  I see it from the point of view of a person who is in prison feeling trapped, occasionally pacing the square metres of his confinement and thinking about his situation in life.  Sometimes, a memory or a thought akin to that of the ‘panther’ will flood his brain and stab his heart.  The memory or thought is almost like a curse, a cruel joke.

There is pronounced sadness and loss in this poem.  For me it talks about the world we live in, the artificiality that exists in our day to day; that which is fake.  In many ways we are all chained and locked in behind the bars of social collective agreed upon self-conditioning, stripped clean of the wild and free spirit that we were born with. There is also the “sheeple-effect” i.e. where one follows blindly the current trends, like sheep, without questioning or worse still, without thinking.

There are many “sheeples” in London.  But also many panthers.

So in essence, this panther can be seen to represent us.

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This is why for some the depth of feeling brought about by Rilke’s poem is not only for caged animals (a reason why I hate zoos), but for all us, in our own ‘imprisonment’. Very little is truly ‘lived’ anymore.  In so many ways we are like Sisyphus, condemned forever to pushing his rock up the hill.  Like the panther, what desires to live and run free, has now been chained and controlled behind the ‘thousand bars’ akin to the thousand closed doors, the thousand disappointments in life.

During Medieval times, the panther typifies Christ, who stays in the cave for three days, emerging from the darkness with a sweet breath.

The ancient Greeks believed the panther was one of the favoured mounts of the god Dionysus.

The Native Americans regard the panther as the Protector of the universe. It is interesting that Rilke selected this powerful totem, the panther at the Paris Zoo, for his object of contemplation.

A Panther is a creature out of ancient myth that resembles a big cat with a multicoloured hide. Under medieval belief after feasting the panther will sleep in a cave for a total of three days. After this period ends, the panther roars, in the process emiting a sweet smelling odour. This odour draws in any creatures who smell it (the dragon being the only creature immune) and the cycle begins again. The ancient Greeks believed the panther was one of the favoured mounts of the god Dionysus. In Germany, the panther is often depicted in heraldry as a creature with four horns, cow’s ears and a fiery red tongue. The coat-of-arms of the city of Cres, Croatia shows a panther with a fiery tongue. This form is known as the Panther Incensed with flames coming from its mouth and ears, representing the panther’s sweet odour.

Panther Totem
As to Indian myth, which most of the totems are taken from, Panther is feared and respected, and in some is regarded as the Protector of the universe. The Zuni believed that he ancient ones wanted the world to be guarded by those keen of sight and scent. The puma (the greatest of them) was the sentinel of the north (the most important position). The Miwoks believed him to be the ideal hunter, while the Apaches and Hualapais thought her wailing was the omen of death. In Navajo myth a hero was wounded by witch objects shot into his body. Puma extracts them and save his life. They also thought that the Puma benefited them by leaving the better part of the portion of its kill for the people to eat. Conversely the Papago and the later white settlers considered the cougar a flesh eating beast. The Inca hunted many animals in great round-ups where they would hunt the hunter. They found it much easier to catch bear and deer in the rounds-ups then panthers. To many Indian societies it was both a Totem and a source of help for hunting and warfare. In fact the Hopi and Zuni took carved mountain lions when hunting deer in hopes that they would be as good at it as the mountain lion was. In many cultures the puma was often deified for its ability to hunt.
(http://dana.ucc.nau.edu/djw2/panther.html)

Panther as a Totem
The panther is a very powerful and ancient totem. It is generally associated with a particular species of leopard or jaguar although the cougar is also referred to as panther. As with most of the large cats, the panther is a symbol of ferocity and valor. It embodies aggressiveness and power, but without the solar significance. In the case of the Black Panther, there is definitely a lunar significance. The panther has over 500 voluntary muscles that they can use at will. This reflects a lot about an individual who has such animals as totems. It reflects an ability to do a variety of tasks as he or she wills. It is simply a matter of deciding and putting to use those particular “muscles” – be they physical, mental, psychic, or spiritual. As a whole panthers are loners (solitary) although they do associate with others, they are most comfortable by themselves or within their own marked territory. They are drawn to those individuals who are likewise often solitary.

Of all the panthers, probably the Black Panther has the greatest mysticism associated with it. It is the symbol of the feminine, the dark mother, the dark of the moon. It is the symbol for the life and power of the night. It is a symbol of the feminine energies manifest upon the earth. It is often a symbol of darkness, death, and rebirth from out of it. There still exists in humanity a primitive fear of the dark and of death. The Black Panther helps us to understand the dark and death and the inherent powers of them; and thus by acknowledging them, eliminate our fears and

Nietzsche once said that “that which does not kill us makes us stronger.” (I disagree with this but that’s a story for another day).  But one can see that it is this same idea that is awakened in the lives of those who open to the power of the panther totem. Those things of childhood and beyond that created suffering and which caused a loss of innate power and creativity are about to be reawakened, confronted and transmuted. The panther marks a new turn in the heroic path of those to whom it comes. It truly reflects more than just coming into one’s own power. Rather it reflects a reclaiming of that which was lost and an intimate connection with the great archetypal force behind it. It gives an ability to go beyond what has been imagined, with opportunity to do so with discipline and control. It is the spirit of imminent rebirth.”
(Ted Andrews, “Animal Speak”: http://www.greatdreams.com/panther.htm)

References for further reading:
Panther: Christian: The panther was said to save people from the dragon or Evil One.
As supposed to have sweet breath, it typified the sweet influence of Christ.
Heraldic: The panther is usually incensed and signifies fierceness;
fury; impetuosity; remorselessness.
— J. C. Cooper, An Illustrated Encyclopedia of Traditional Symbols,
Thames & Hudson, London, 1978, p. 126

Panther: The panther (or leopard) was a totemic symbol of Dionysis,
whose priests wore panther-skins. Its name in Greek meant “All-beast” referring
to the god as “the All” which was also another beast version of divinity, Pan.
Panthers were much admired in Rome, and were imported from Africa for public
displays and games in the arena.
— Barbara G. Walker, The Woman’s Dictionary of Symbols and Sacred Objects,
HarperCollins Publishers, New York, 1988, p. 385

Panther Skin: A symbol signifying the overcoming of the lower desires.
“The iron which is the ceiling of heaven opens itself before Pepi, and he passes
through it with his panther skin upon him, and his staff and whip in his hand.”
— E.A. Wallis Budge, Book of the Dead, Vol. I, p. lxiii.
The higher mind, which is the firmament below the buddhic plane, is receptive
of the consciousness of the purified soul which has overcome the desires,
and actively aspires to that which is above.
— G. A. Gaskell, The Dictionary of All Scriptures and Myth,
Avenel Books, NY, 1981 (original: Julian Press, 1960), p. 559

be ahead of all parting


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Hello all, I hope your day has been kind.

Rilke’s poem for today, 13 January 2015, spoke to me and I would like to share it with you:

Be ahead of all parting, as if it had
already happened,
like winter which even now is passing.

For beneath the winter is a winter so endless
that to survive it at all is a triumph of the
heart.

Be forever dead in Eurydice, and climb
back singing.
Climb praising as you return to
connection.

Here among the disappearing, in the
realm of the transient,
be a ringing glass that shatters as it rings.

Be.  And know as well the need to not be:
let that ground of all that changes
bring you to completion now.

To all that has run its course, and to the
vast unsayable
numbers of beings abounding in Nature,
add yourself gladly, and cancel the cost.

(Sonnets to Orpheus II, A Year with Rilke: Daily Readings)

In Greek mythologyEurydice was an oak nymph or one of the daughters of Apollo (the god of music, who also drove the sun chariot, ‘adopting’ the power as god of the Sun from the primordial god Helios.) She was the wife of Orpheus, who tried to bring her back from the dead with his enchanting music.

Here is the story which gives you a taste from where Rilke could be presenting from:

Orpheus was the son of Apollo and the muse Calliope. He was presented by his father with a lyre and taught to play upon it, and he played to such perfection that nothing could withstand the charm of his music. Not only his fellow mortals, but wild beasts were softened by his strains, and gathering round him laid by their fierceness, and stood entranced with his lay. Orpheus sang his grief to all who breathed the upper air, both gods and men, and finding it all unavailing resolved to seek his wife in the regions of the dead. He descended by a cave situated on the side of the promontory of Taenarus and arrived at the Stygian realm.

He passed through crowds of ghosts, and presented himself before the throne of Pluto and Proserpine. As he sang these tender strains, the very ghosts shed tears. Tantalus, in spite of his thirst, stopped for a moment his efforts for water, Ixion’s wheel stood still, the vulture ceased to tear the giant’s liver, the daughters of Danaus rested from their task of drawing water in a sieve, and Sisyphus sat on his rock to listen.

Then for the first time, it is said, the cheeks of the Furies were wet with tears. Proserpine could not resist, and Pluto himself gave way. Eurydice was called. She came from among the new-arrived ghosts, limping with her wounded foot. Orpheus was permitted to take her away with him on one condition that he should not turn round to look at her till they should have reached the upper air. Under this condition they proceeded on their way, he leading, she following, through passages dark and steep, in total silence, till they had nearly reached the outlet into the cheerful upper world, when Orpheus, in a moment of forgetfulness, to assure himself that she was still following, cast a glance behind him, when instantly she was borne away.

eurydiceStretching out their arms to embrace one another they grasped only the air. Dying now a second time she yet cannot reproach her husband, for how can she blame his impatience to behold her? “Farewell,” she said, “a last farewell,” and was hurried away, so fast that the sound hardly reached his ears.

Orpheus endeavoured to follow her, and besought permission to return and try once more for her release but the stern ferryman repulsed him and refused passage. Seven days he lingered about the brink, without food or sleep; then bitterly accusing of cruelty the powers of Erebus, he sang his complaints to the rocks and mountains, melting the hearts of tigers and moving the oaks from their stations. He held himself aloof from womankind, dwelling constantly on the recollection of his sad mischance.

The Thracian maidens tried their best to captivate him, but he repulsed their advances. They bore with him as long as they could; but finding him insensible, one day, one of them, excited by the rites of Bacchus, exclaimed, “See yonder our despiser!” and threw at him her javelin. The weapon, as soon as it came within the sound of his lyre, fell harmless at his feet. So did also the stones that they threw at him. But the women raised a scream and drowned the voice of the music, and then the missiles reached him and soon were stained with his blood. The maniacs tore him limb from limb, and threw his head and his lyre into the river Hebrus, down which they floated, murmuring sad music, to which the shores responded a plaintive symphony.

The Muses gathered up the fragments of his body and buried them at Libethra, where the nightingale is said to sing over his grave more sweetly than in any other part of Greece. His lyre was placed by Jupiter among the stars. His shade passed a second time to Tartarus, where he sought out his Eurydice and embraced her, with eager arms. They roam through those happy fields together now, sometimes he leads, sometimes she; and Orpheus gazes as much as he will upon her, no longer incurring a penalty for a thoughtless glance.

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What a story eh?  That’s Greek mythology for you! It’s so beautifully written and translated. I wish I had that skill!

Rilke is always very suggestive in his writings, a perfect example of ‘show but not tell’.

I think that the poem above ‘Be Ahead Of All Parting’ is a metaphor of Death, alongside Life. The parting also speaks of the transient, ever-changing, seasons in life and not just winter. As always, Rilke interweaves, beautifully, both life and death, in his poetry.  They do after all co-exist and made possible because of each other’s presence just like light and darkness. What I’m struck by especially, is the line “Be. And know as well the need to not be.”

That, to me, is the HEART heart little of the poem.

It speaks of knowing when and where to be present in one’s life and when to let go.  This fine art of waiting, listening, trusting and only then, when you know it’s time to act, ACT, is so much a part of my life now.  And I can honestly say to you, from my heart, it works. But not so easy to do.

May you meet your days with trust, knowing when to be, and when to not be. As Paulo Coelho gently reminds us, “what’s important will stay”. 

Be kind to yourselves.

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