I so enjoy reading. I also enjoy movies. Often I re-read favorite books and re-watch favorite movies multiple times.
Each time I do this, I find I learn something new. Maybe it’s just a funny line I overlooked in the first 22 viewings, or a well-turned phrase in the first seven readings.
But sometimes, it is profound.
For instance, recently I was re-reading the book that “started it all” (by which I mean the road that led me to found MentorCONNECT, my recovery journey, hope that someday I could not just understand myself but perhaps even like who I am).
The book is Rainer Maria Rilke’s “Letters to a Young Poet,” and this isn’t the first time and won’t be the last time I write about it here and elsewhere.
In this particular reading, I happened upon a passage about what to do when life gets difficult. What is so interesting about this passage – and Rilke’s advice – is that I’ve always been told and instinctively believed that difficulty meant I was going in the wrong direction.
But as it turns out, I wasn’t unpacking that thought fully enough. Of course when things get challenging, taking time to pause and reflect, to wait for inner guidance, is typically the better choice rather than just barreling on through, bumps, bruises and all (or at least it tends to be for me).
Rilke writes to his young mentee, Franz Xaver Kappus, about difficulty. Kappus is concerned that his life is becoming too difficult. Rilke sees it otherwise:
“Most people have (with the help of conventions) turned their solutions toward what is easy and toward the easiest side of the easy; but it is clear that we must trust in what is difficult; everything alive trusts in it, everything in Nature grows and defends itself any way it can and is spontaneously itself, tries to be itself at all costs and against all opposition. We know little, but that we must trust in what is difficult is a certainty that will never abandon us…”
He then goes on to name some difficult good things that can help us grow and evolve into the fullness of who we are – like spending time with ourselves (what Rilke likes to call “solitude”) and love for self and others.
I can’t believe I missed this passage all these years and through all the ensuing readings! To be able to trust in the difficult good – in challenges like starting MentorCONNECT, recovering from an eating disorder (and then anxiety, and then depression), loving myself, loving others, embracing who I am and trying at all costs to be me in spite of all opposition….how lovely! How wonderful! How wise.
Today’s Takeaway: What do you think about the role of difficulty in building trust – in self, in life, in the connection we somehow all share in with this world and each other? I would love to hear your thoughts!
Man entering maze image available from Shutterstock.
Last reviewed: 13 May 2013