Thursday, August 4, 2011

exclude nothing


We must assume our existence as broadly as we in any way can; 
everything, even the unheard-of, must be possible in it. 
That is at bottom the only courage that is demanded of us:
to have courage for the most strange, 
the most singular and the most inexplicable that we may encounter. 

That mankind has in this sense been cowardly has done life endless harm; 
the experiences that are called "visions," the whole so-called "spirit-world," 
death, all those things that are so closely akin to us, 
have by daily parrying been so crowded out of life 
that the senses with which we could have grasped them are atrophied. 

 But fear of the inexplicable has not alone impoverished the existence of the individual; 
the relationship between one human being and another has also been cramped by it, 
as though it had been lifted out of the riverbed of endless possibilities 
and set down in a fallow spot on the bank, to which nothing happens. 

For it is not inertia alone that is responsible for human relationships repeating themselves 
from case to case, indescribably monotonous and unrenewed: 
it is shyness before any sort of new, unforeseeable experience 
with which one does not think oneself able to cope. 

But only someone who is ready for everything, who excludes nothing, 
not even the most enigmatical, will live the relation to another as something alive 
and will himself draw exhaustively from his own existence. 
For if we think of this existence of the individual as a larger or smaller room,
 it appears evident that most people learn to know only a corner of their room, 
a place by the window, a strip of floor on which they walk up and down. 
Thus they have a certain security. 

And yet that dangerous insecurity is so much more human 
which drives the prisoners in Poe's stories to feel out the shapes of their horrible dungeons 
and not be strangers to the unspeakable terror of their abode. 
We, however, are not prisoners. 
No traps or snares are set about us, 
and there is nothing which should intimidate or worry us. 

We are set down in life as in the element to which we best correspond, 
and over and above this we have through thousands of years of accommodation 
become so like this life, that when we hold still we are, through a happy mimicry, 
scarcely to be distinguished from all that surrounds us. 

We have no reason to mistrust our world, for it is not against us. 
Has it terrors, they are our terrors; has it abysses, those abuses belong to us; 
are dangers at hand, we must try to love them. 

And if only we arrange our life according to that principle 
which counsels us that we must always hold to the difficult, 
then that which now still seems to us the most alien 
will become what we most trust and find most faithful. 

How should we be able to forget those ancient myths about dragons 
that at the last moment turn into princesses; 
perhaps all the dragons of our lives are princesses who are only waiting 
to see us once beautiful and brave. 
Perhaps everything terrible is in its deepest being 
something helpless that wants help from us. 

~ Rainer Maria Rilke