Birthday, by Marc Chagall
Whenever people in love act out of an imagined fusion of their beings, their every action is dictated by convention. Every relation colored by such confusion is conventional, however exotic (that is, immoral) it might appear. Even separating would be a conventional step, an automatic alternative lacking in skill and creativity.
Whoever takes it seriously, discovers that, as with death which is real, so with real love, there are no easy recipes. For both these undertakings, there are no universally agreed-upon rules. But in the same measure that we begin as individuals to explore life's meaning for us, these great things come toward us to be met and known. The claims made upon us by the hard work of love are bigger than life and essential to our unfolding, and we are seldom up to them at the outset. But if we hold steady and take this love upon us as a task and a teaching, instead of losing ourselves in an easy and frivolous game behind which to hide the most honest questions of our existence—this may be felt as a small illumination and step forward by those who come long after us. That in itself would be a lot.
Rome, May 14, 1904
Letters to a Young Poet
Rilke seems to say something like the work of learning to love is similar to (or, a prelude to?) the work of learning to die. And, what we learn has the potential to help others, as we are all in this work of life together. Frivolity in these things is pointless. This perspective is most helpful.ReplyDelete
"the claims made upon us by the hard work of love are bigger than life and essential to our unfolding, and we are seldom up to them at the outset." i had no idea and have had no idea and only no have an idea of the truth of this. it's a piece of the work of being human that we are so entirely unprepared for and yet it's the central piece for the metaphor of love leads into the deepest and richest realms of growth and insight and perception. stevenReplyDelete
i'm not sure we have the ability to remove the imagined fusions, and wonder if this must be a hard work. i'm also not sure love can grow on one random moment after another. perhaps a balance of convention and randomness could work or at least prove the love impossibleReplyDelete
wonder. and seriousnous! and oh my, are we ever not prepared for this aspect of love! perhaps once we were with more formality. i'll have to think about that. (but certainly not in today's flash in the pan way of self indulgence.) but just as anything, to look at the value of formality, if the construct is forced upon us we miss the meat of it. however, if we age into it, become wiser into it (ironically by noting our ignorance and need to work away from our ignorance) perhaps then we have a chance in the work of it.ReplyDelete
steven writes, it's a piece of the work of being human that we are so entirely unprepared for. i think this is true for any well worth it aspect of life like parenting or loving, living itself, or dying, as nelson echoes of rilke. here again, those things that cause us the greatest sorrows and tumult are those things that grant us our greatest value.
and i laugh at this, our value, for even that up against - what? existence? just how significant are we? (only to us, my friends. only to us.)