I Want to Know

Doing Dishes: From the Frying pan into the fire?

You know those moments where nothing seems to make sense and you feel like screaming at God or the Universe, “What the hell is that all about? Is there any justice in this world? I want to know ___?” In your mind, you know that everything will work out, that we are all only given the teachings and lessons that we can handle and learn from, but you can’t imagine how, and knowing that is very different than feeling it?  People you love are getting smacked sideways, or you are getting smacked sideways, and you know you just need to surrender, and stop fighting it, but how do you do that? Maybe you don’t know those days, but I do. I had one of those today, for part of the day. It came on the heels of yesterday’s emotional roller-coaster ride, and I finally did just let go. I still have a few things on this morning’s “to do” list, but going to Vertical World and scaling walls for a while stopped the spinning whirl of thought. While out in the rain with Sherlock and Cody, I found myself silently reciting another poem. This time it was not of my composition, but it occurred to me, as I wordlessly looked up at the sky and hollered, that this entire blog project, at least the writing part, is an effort to respond to this demand I sometimes find myself uttering. It doesn’t answer the question behind the demand. It can’t, because I can’t create something concrete for that demand to rest on. Its the unsure-ness that creates the demand to start with. The following poem is a favorite, so the words came easily. Only today, when the stanzas appeared in my mind, did I put it together with my demands of myself, God, the Universe, and other people about who we all are, and why we’re here, followed by subsequent efforts to surrender that concrete identity.

SELF PORTRAIT

It doesn’t interest me if there is one God

or many gods.

I want to know if you belong or feel

abandoned,

if you can know despair or see it in others.

I want to know

if you are prepared to live in the world

with its harsh need

to change you. If you can look back

with firm eyes,

saying this is where I stand. I want to know

if you are willing

to live, day by day, with the consequence of love

and the bitter

unwanted passion of your sure defeat.

I have heard, in that fierce embrace, even

the gods speak of God.

~ David Whyte ~

As I was copying this poem, because I can’t figure out why it won’t let me cut and paste, another favorite came to me. The following quote usually resides above my jewelry workbench, thumb-tacked to the wall for frequent reference. I give myself a lot of pep talks.

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

It seems that this may be one of those places in life where, when you boil it all down, you are left with a paradox. If I am to be faithful to the underlying truths, then I need to somehow “want to know”, and at the same time surrender to not knowing constantly. Maybe even to ask for answers and at the same time trust that the answers are in the living.

So when I, or one of my children gets slapped sideways by life, and I ask the question “Why?” which lies at the root of the demand to know, can I consistently relax and surrender in the knowledge that my answers actually lie in holding those questions unanswered? I can try…

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