May 27, 2011

Patience Is All

A Wind-Beaten Tree, by Vincent van Gogh

Do not measure in terms of time: one year or ten years means nothing. For the artist there is no counting or tallying up; just ripening like the tree that does not force its sap and endures the storms of spring without fearing that summer will not come. But it will come. It comes, however, only to the patient ones who stand there as if all eternity lay before them—vast, still, untroubled. I learn this every day of my life, I learn it from hardships I am grateful for: patience is all.

Viareggio, April 23, 1903
Letters to a Young Poet


  1. i can laugh at myself here a little. it is as though we create our own storms. it's all in perception/acceptance. if we can weather the bad times we will reach through to the other side - one way or another. it is up to us to have the tumult present or not. i haven't fared so well with the patience in the last year. i've let the fear grip me. i'm in the calm of it now, not necessarily happy, but ok.

    you fight the river or ride the river, either way you arrive where the river is taking you.

    i love rilke. he speaks for me. he speaks for all of us.


  2. Great quote. Patient gestation truly is the deal: it takes decades. Meanwhile we keep tending, listening, throwing out next-to-the-last drafts.

    What Rilke says above about the artist "not counting or tallying" repeats in the Sonnets to Orpheus:

    ...Be--and yet know the great void where all things begin,
    the infinite source of your own most intense vibration,
    so that, this once, you may give it your perfect assent.

    To all that is used-up, and to all the muffled and dumb
    creatures in the world's full reserve, the unsayable sums,
    joyfully add yourself, and cancel the count.

    Be. And be patient, fer Crissakes. Erin's second graph - "you fight the river or ride the river, either way you arrive where the river is taking you" is so true. Patient or no, the baby's gonna plop out according to Nature's time. - Brendan

  3. "There is no such thing as a problem without a gift for you in its hands. We seek out problems because we need their gifts." ~ Richard Bach

    OK. I'm getting reinforcement and I'm grateful. I'm choosing this path--all the stuff, all the emotions, all the turmoil. I get to stand in the midst of it.

    I thought I knew "Letters" pretty well, but I don't recall this part. "For the artist there is no tallying up. . . only ripening." That is great solace and encouragement.

  4. Lovely statement on the artist reaching full realization.

  5. I just feel like shedding a river of sorrow for us all.

    We have to get through youth. As Shaw said, Youth is wasted on the young. By the time we get this old (how old is "this old" you ask?) and know that with patience something good comes, we are no longer young and setting up our life with piss and vinegar.

    Yes, we get to the end, one way or another. The baby does get born. But some of the time the thrashing and labor is so intense, and it feels like we have gone to the moon and back with extra movements, rather than just the duration of the river.

    What am I saying. It just seems almost useless to say it to a young person! Is it important to say it to them? Can they hear it? Is it for them we say it, or for ourselves?

  6. After shedding that river . . .

    I know that I would not be who I am without the thrashing about that has happened in my life. In fact, I would not want my life to be any different. I sure wouldn't want a straight, plain river flowing through predictable cement walls.

  7. wonderful advice; hard for a young person to accept because you don't realize patience pays off when you want it right now.

  8. Things wax and wane and nothing seems to stay still, this is especially true of the now,
    that may not seem possible may suddenly happen sometimes things are meant to be

  9. Not everyone understand the invaluable output of hardship and patience. An advice like this (and thanks Rilke for reminding us), was given out just to remind those who have not been blinded with difficulties in life. These are people who have triumphed to stand back every time they stumble down.


"Everything is blooming most recklessly; if it were voices instead of colors, there would be an unbelievable shrieking into the heart of the night."

~ Rainer Maria Rilke

Go ahead, bloom recklessly!