Ah, but about Rilke. i have been reading his Letters to a Young Poet when I have no jobs to proof, and he made me almost cry today, except that I did not let myself because it might have been awkward trying to explain if a co-worker came suddenly into my office, as they do. (The work can be demanding, but it has not reduce me to tears...not yet!)
Rilke writes nothing that is entirely new to me, but much that touches a certain place in me that corresponds to what he writes...I mean, if I can explain it, a place that has always known what he says, and thought of it, and tried in various ways to express it. And it is like how I feel when I play a particular chord in the first movement of Beethoven's "Moonlight Sonata"--this one chord always makes me want to close my eyes, because it is so sweet it hurts. And I can't say how, but I know this chord belongs to me, comes from me in the playing of it, just as much as it belongs to beethoven, and came from him when he penned it.
In Letter #3, Rilke talks about gestation and birth, and I think a lot about those things. Not because I am a woman and I want children, because I don't, though I am. But because I have felt the past two years that I was caught up in a pregnancy of sorts...my own or the world's, I don't know. The transitions of my life, recently, have taken place for the most part in 9-month stretches--9 months in New Zealand the first time, 9 months the second; then 9 months working in a transitional job and struggling through feelings of such disappointment, such anger with God, that it perplexes me to remember them, and I hardly recognize myself in those months.
Now perhaps I am embarking on a new time, but toward what? And what have all these pregnancies brought forth, after all?
That remains to be seen. But I like what Rilke says:
Everything is gestation and then birthing. To let each impression and each embryo of a feeling come to completion, entirely in itself, in the dark, in the unsayable, the unconscious, beyond the reach of one's own understanding, and with deep humility and patience to wait for the hour when a new clarity is born: this alone is what it means to live as an artist: in understanding as in creating.
In this there is no measuring with time, a year doesn't matter, and ten years are nothing. Being an artist means: not numbering and counting, but ripening like a tree, which doesn't force its sap, and stands confidently in the storms of spring, not afraid that afterward summer may not come. It does come. But it comes only to those who are patient, who are there as if eternity lay before them, so unconcernedly silent and vast. I learn it every day of my life, learn it with pain I am grateful for: patience is everything!
(trans. by Stephen Mitchell)