By Javier Rivera
“There is only a single, urgent task: to attach oneself someplace to nature, to that which is strong, striving and bright with unreserved readiness, and then to move forward in one’s efforts without any calculation or guile, even when engaged in the most trivial and mundane activities. Each time we thus reach out with joy, each time we cast our view toward distances that have not yet been touched, we transform not only the present moment and the one following but also alter the past within us, weave it into the pattern of our existence, and dissolve the foreign body of pain whose exact composition we ultimately do not know. Just as we do not know how much vital energy this foreign body, once it has been thus dissolved, might impart to our bloodstream!” — Rilke ( The Poets Guide to Life “ The Wisdom of Rilke” translated by Ulrich Baer)
This attachment to ‘someplace to nature” is perhaps the most vague and troublesome for those who wish to know, but Rilke tries his best as to not be a disservice to you, but rather leave you within a space of choosing. For this urgency is a demand for a kind of rootedness, but how will you know you have succeeded? Transformation is the key movement in the telling of such an achievement. Your pain, your sorrow, your loneliness, your hatred and even your anxiety are containers of energy that must not be held but to be poured into you and through you, as if you were a hand reposed in a lively stream. How else can such a movement be explained without some calculated determination? This kind of moving forward that is “seemingly effortless” is a kind of alignment. You are skillfully placing yourself in a position where one can best receive and give.
However, an attachment to someplace “strong and striving” demands a kind of trust for this transformation and movement to take place. This ultimately, leads to a more hidden urgency, which is the demand of your letting go. This ironical action is exactly how one will find this “someplace” in nature that will propel you forward with effortless joy and transformation. You will let it “weave” you instead of you weaving it and you’ll experience the “patterns of existence” that Rilke is speaking about.
This overwhelming abundance will then blossom out of your mouth dropping ripe fruit around you. No amount of mundane or trivial activities can deter this abundance. Everything you give is renewed in every moment, there is no tearing away or sacrificing. Your existence lies in being a receptacle for this overflowing abundance. Therefore, to “dissolve this foreign body of pain” is to lie in the palm of this unknown moreness and to be a witness to your own weaving. Which is perhaps why Rilke defines this as our most “single, urgent task”.
It is my hope that I will continue these Rilke Meditations paragraph by paragraph in attempt to explore the richness of Rilke in all of his unsayableness.