“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.”
― Rainer Maria Rilke
I think writing is a process of becoming conscious of the questions. We spend most of our lives running from or trying to answer questions, but sitting with the questions themselves in awareness, hardly. We either tiptoe out of the room looking for something else to distract us or set a laser beam on the more obvious but perhaps least sincere resolution. Meditation is a process of defining the questions, waiting, listening, observing the mind until gracefully the question becomes clear. Or if we have great longing we surrender to our tremendous smallness and we merge with the questions like the low tide exchanging sand and water, water and sand, at once, moving together.
Writing is a meditation on the question, refining it, circling around it if we are clumsy, touching it tenderly if we are calm or frightened, breaking it open if we are bold. What are my questions?
Lately I am facing the question of place, where do we belong?
This is something we have been patient with, waiting for an answer; we have been living with the question. I deal out different answers, sure, but only because social conventions oblige us. We have been diving through the question for more than a year, a clock ticking beside us on the wall and still underwater. Mostly we feel stillness there observing the fish, the rocks, the lake weeds, is there a warm swirl of water there where the sun comes through illuminating the mica in the stones, rose colored quartz and golden sunfish swimming? I admit, sometimes I panicked and kicked upwards to breathe the air and called it all absurd, but I didn’t throw myself back onto the shore. I waited and the question itself became a part of me and I could again feel the peaceful observance. We want to know the answer, of course, but this question will only be answered through small gifts of listening shells, maybe something will wash up on the shore, catch our eye while swimming and the collection will speak the answer with its weight. I think it unlikely that we will find a sunken treasure, but a few rare jewels may suffice.
To be more true to Rilke’s sentiments, by living the question, we may live the answer. In our waiting we have made discoveries, not of jewels but of our hearts own desires, of decisions made by not deciding. We don’t need to be near the door of a Gurdwara Sahib, we have lived this year without it and found enough faith in our four walls to sustain us. We only found it by waiting. I know that living above the ground has kept me from touching it. I know I can’t live so far above the ground for much longer, I need that first floor door to propel me out where great joy awaits in dark soil and puddles and stemmed and rooted things. In our waiting for Spring, Spring itself will propel me, send me seeking soil. The mud will embed in my fingers and I will become a part of that place. The answers come in the living of it. The compass twitches with our own electromagnetic force.