Anticipation, Rilke, and the Future

You see, I want a lot.                                                                                                                 Maybe I want it all:                                                                                                                   the darkness of each endless fall,                                                                                           the shimmering light of each ascent.

So many are alive who don’t seem to care.                                                                           Casual, easy, they move in the world                                                                                   as though untouched.

But you take pleasure in the faces                                                                                           of those who know they thirst.                                                                                                 You cherish those                                                                                                                       who grip you for survival.

You are not dead yet, it’s not too late                                                                                     to open your depths by plunging into them                                                                         and drink in the life                                                                                                                 that reveals itself quietly there.

– 1.14, Rainer Maria Rilke, the Book of a Monastic Life

As I prepare to embark on a journey I am more than excited for, this poem speaks to me from it’s place in a compilation of Rilke poems gifted to me by an a very special person. Poetry is all up for interpretation, as discovered in my English class this year while dissecting the unique poems of Ferlinghetti. To me, this poem speaks of life, of passion, and of journey. It reminds me of passion I’ve felt while working towards something I’ve whole heartedly been committed to, or of the feelings of excitement and anticipation that surround the trip I am about to undertake.

In a way, this poem is summed up by a much too often used (by my own brother) phrase that is seen plastered EVERYWHERE in the most cliché and possibly awful way ever. YOLO. You Only Live Once.

You have no idea how much it pains me to write those words.

However I suppose, if you really want to come down to the essence of this poem in a way that pretty much any idiot could understand, this is the word that could be used.

I bring up this poem as it encompasses for me all that I look forward to not only in this trip, but in the upcoming year. Too often this past year I have found myself in states of panic, being overwhelmed with everything that was going on. Not because I didn’t care enough or wasn’t organized enough to make all of this work, but because I cared too much. I was involved in so much that everything became a haze, life became an endless round door of lunch meetings, hurried conversations in the hall, and too little time spent with the people that mean the most to me. I couldn’t figure out how to become less involved when everything I was involved in was so important to me, and I was so passionate for them.

I can now look upon these beyond stressful experiences and state that it was an excess of the poem above, I was trying to live so much that I ended up not living at all. How could I appreciate the accomplishment I had just achieved when I had another meeting for a different event scheduled for twenty five minutes down the road? How could I stop for a moment and take in the amazing things I was a part of, when the only thing on my mind was what I had to do after school to make sure that my expectations of pure perfection were not shattered?

After a month of summer, of working, of obscene amounts of literature, I can take a step back from the past few months and understand why on paper everything seemed to be going perfectly, but why in my head and heart I knew it was anything but that. Like I said before, I was trying to do so much living, that I ended up not doing any of it. That’s why for this trip I have neglected to make a list of things I want to do, I want to achieve, I want to accomplish, as I normally would have. Instead I’m opting for the more “go with the flow” kind of route, so that I can experience life in a way that includes passion but doesn’t include outrageously high expectations.

I’m also trying to do the same when looking towards the next school year (although I do realize it is only the second of August). It’s essential for my well being that this upcoming year I really do limit what I am involved in, what I commit to, what I participate in. I have so many ideas floating around my head of what I want to do, but I know that should I decide to embark upon them all, pure chaos will ensue. So with these final words of reflection, I shall go back to packing my near bursting suitcase, and hope that I can stay true not only to my word, but to Rilke’s poem on life and passion.


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