On a Saturday of unceasing rain, our cats curled up together for warmth. They took turns grooming and snuggling each other for hours. Yesterday, during another rainy, damp day, I hosted the first meeting of writers at Spring Bird's cottage. We cozied around a table taking care of one another: cooking and offering food, clearing away dishes, pouring coffee etc. We talked and talked and talked ---some of it even about writing. One certitude surfaced among all of the whirling mysteries, uncertainties, creative upheavals, trials and tribulations of all shapes and sizes. We need afternoons like this where we can listen, offer advice, and be supportive of one another--especially since we are all creative women. I feel so lucky as a high introvert, hermit woman to have people in my life--near and far that can listen to my broken record with patience and insight. We can find comfort in one another's encouragement and advocacy.
So this artist to artist support made me think of about Rainer Maria Rilke's long distance mentorship to his writer friend Franz Xaver Kappus. One of Rilke's messages to Kappus was that ultimately, we are creating alone:
"For the creative artist must be a world of his own and must find everything within himself and in nature, to which
he has betrothed himself."
"It is through aloneness that you will find all your paths. All my wishes are prepared to accompany you, and so will my trust in you."
And while we are creating alone, we must embrace the entirety of ourselves, our circumstances, and our emotions. Most of all, we must be patient with your process. (I need that reminder tattooed to my hand). I wish to share with my friends Rilke's perspective since he made an appearance in our group yesterday. Maybe he would say this to us:
"You must not be frightened, dear Mr. Kappus, when a sadness arises within you of such magnitude as you have never experienced, or when a restlessness overshadows all you do, like light and the shadow of clouds gliding over your hand. You must believe that something is happening to you, that life has not forgotten you, that it holds you in its hand. It shall not let you fall.
Why should you want to exclude any anxiety, and grief, any melancholy from your life, since you do not know why it is that these conditions are accomplishing in you? Why do you want to persecute yourself with the question of where everything comes from and where it is headed? You do know that you are in a period of transition and wish for nothing as much as to transform yourself. If some aspect of your life is not well, then consider the illness to be the means for an organism to free itself from something foreign to it. In that case you must help it to be ill and to have its whole illness, to let it break out. That is the course of its progress.
So much is happening within you at present, dear Mr. Kappus. You need to be as patient someone ill and as optimistic as one recuperating, for perhaps you are both. And more: You are also the physician who must watch over yourself. But in the course of every illness there are many days in which the physician can do nothing but wait. And that, above all, to the extent that you are your physician, you must do now."
-----From Letters To a Young Poet by Rainer Maria Rilke and translated by Joan M. Burnham
Anna Lentz, artist and writer, blogs about making a creative life connected with nature at Spring Bird.