I was feeling apprehensive and disconsolate yesterday evening. I have so many questions in my heart - am I making the right decision? Is this what I really want? It feels like closing the door on a thousand fates I could live out - what if there is one that would make me happier and more fulfilled? I try to picture myself in the future - 4 months, 4 years, 40 years - what's it like? How do I regard this pivotal moment in my life? Do I think back and say, that was the best decision I ever made? Do I look back and wonder what might have happened if I made a different decision? Do I look back with regret? I feel like I'm on the edge of a cliff. And I've sort of started to slide down the side, but it's not too late to pull myself back up and go back into the forest. If I don't, I'm gonna start falling fast and things will come rushing towards me uncontrollably into the unknown -- but into a certain kind of future.
So as I got in bed, feeling like I needed comfort... like I wanted a glimpse of the future to know for certain this is RIGHT and TRUE and GOOD... I spotted my copy of Letters to a Young Poet by Rainer Maria Rilke and decided to flip it open. It is probably my favorite book of all time. It found me during a difficult time in my life and was like a shining light. I've read it a hundred times and given many copies away as gifts. It never disappoints me:
... I have left a letter from you long unanswered, not that I had forgotten it -- on the contrary: it was of the sort that one reads again, when one finds them among one's correspondence, and I recognized you in it as though you had been close at hand. It was the letter of May 2nd, and you surely remember it. When I read it, as now in the great quiet of these distances, I am touched by your beautiful concern about life, more even than I had felt it in Paris, where everything resounds and dies away differently because of the too great noise that makes things vibrate. Here, where an immense country lies about me, over which the winds pass coming from the seas, here I feel that no human being anywhere can answer for you those questions and feelings that deep within them have a life of their own; for even the best err in words when they are meant to mean most delicate and almost inexpressible things.
But I believe nevertheless that you will not have to remain without a solution if you will hold to objects that are similar to those from which my eyes now draw refreshment. If you will cling to Nature, to the simple in Nature, to the little things that hardly anyone sees, and that can so unexpectedly become big and beyond measuring; if you have this love of inconsiderable things and seek quite simply, as one who serves, to win the confidence of what seems poor: then everything will become easier, more coherent and somehow more conciliatory for you, not in your intellect, perhaps, which lags marveling behind, but in your inmost consciousness, waking and cognizance.
You are so young, so before all beginning, and I want to beg you, as much as I can, to be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and to try to love the questions themselves like locked rooms and like books that are 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.