07 August 2013

This too shall pass

Written for an old friend.

The one thing you can count on is that time moves forward one day per day, and all of this will be replaced with something else.

I read an interview with Bonnie Raitt. She said something close to: “I used to write these songs about ‘without you I will die’. But then I went through that, and I felt that way, and it turned out that I didn't die. In fact, I went on to a better life. It just wasn't true.”

This is the advantage of middle age. You've been in some tough scrapes. You've had your heart broken. You've been in despair. And you've come out the other side.

In fact, you've done this stuff enough times that you don't even remember all the details. There are some of those dark passages you don't even remember at all.

You forget because you don't need to remember. The only thing you need is the knowledge that as a result of those tests you have all the resources you need, that you've become a smarter, stronger person than you could have imagined possible when you were younger.

The Man Watching

I can tell by the way the trees beat, after
so many dull days, on my worried windowpanes
that a storm is coming,
and I hear the far-off fields say things
I can't bear without a friend,
I can't love without a sister.

The storm, the shifter of shapes, drives on
across the woods and across time, and the world looks as if it had no age:
the landscape, like a line in the psalm book,
is seriousness and weight and eternity.

What we choose to fight is so tiny!
What fights with us is so great.
If only we would let ourselves be dominated as things do by some immense storm,
we would become strong too, and not need names.

When we win it's with small things,
and the triumph itself makes us small.
What is extraordinary and eternal does not want to be bent by us.
I mean the Angel who appeared to the wrestlers of the Old Testament:
when the wrestlers' sinews
grew long like metal strings,
he felt them under his fingers
like chords of deep music.

Whoever was beaten by this Angel
(who often simply declined the fight)
went away proud and strengthened
and great from that harsh hand,
that kneaded him as if to change his shape.
Winning does not tempt that man.
This is how he grows: by being defeated, decisively,
by constantly greater beings.

Rainer Maria Rilke

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