Tag Archives: Rilke

Year of Self Compassion #44 #popcorn

Conversations with yourself, the best version of yourself, the truest version of yourself, are the hardest conversations.  For around twenty-five years I have invoked Rilke’s instruction to live the questions, but not fully embraced the guide he also gave to go along with this instruction, to be patient with all that is unsolved in your heart.  And now I come to another threshold and am digging deep to discover what patience and love might feel reveal in living the questions to their fullest potential and in doing so live into the answer.

“Be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves, like locked rooms and like books that are now 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.”

Along the way, the questions take on a depth hidden in their earliest incarnations. The eternal question of Who are you? Started off life with an address, a location in a family order, infused by DNA, connected by legal, moral and dutiful threads; now comes into its mature form to wrestle me to the ground liberated from all other holds. Approaching this question with a mirror, no rose coloured glasses, denuded of memories enables raw vulnerability to arrive.

When you have nothing else to lose, gain is all that is possible.  The vastness that spelt emptiness and a vacuum, now offers itself as river deep, mountain high, possibilities. A filling up and overflowing in the way popcorn can’t be contained. The hard kernel of corn protecting it’s source of energy stored to be released when put under heat and pressure and then with puff turning inside out, propelled to fill the empty space. One pop after another, exploding not imploding, reminding me I too can be released in little and consistent bursts.

Accepting the invitation to release, is a complex process.

There are many possibilities for how we might come to be released.  A simple dismal has served me well in the past. Then there is the heavy load that we carry that requires another to forgive ourselves before redemption. For instance, in the movie The Mission, Mendoza a former slave trader and soldier is released from his past sins metaphorically captured with a sack full of the weapons of his past life being carried up through high and dangerous waterfalls, the load is eventually cut away from him, by the ones he had previously enslaved. Unfettered and forgiven, he is liberated. Our release is often dependent on others forgiveness and our ability to accept that possibility. Then there is the sophistication, simplicity and science of the popcorn which is serving me well as a metaphor at the junction of Act 3 facing into the world.

That little drop of water inside the corn that turns into steam and causes the corn to pop and turn into a shape about 40 -50 times its original size according to popcorn.org. As the starch forms and the gymnastic popcorn leaps up into the air, somersaults, forms a tower with its transformed peers.  This is the kind of metaphor that can sustain me, leveraging off the steam and heat and turning into something bigger, bolder and more amazing. Just how much popcorn is necessary is the kind of question to live while seeking answers to questions that have no right to go away.


Photo by Georgia Vagim on Unsplash

Promises to Tomorrow #24 Ask

There is a spectrum to asking – all the way from clumsy and heartfelt to bold, brassy and choreographed. It is a simple thing to ask and with the invitation comes expectation, trust, hope. The fear of rejection can bring a paralysing effect to an ask and equally the potential may bring excitement. Crafting an ask is a work of art. Siddling up and gently putting a question fuelled by courage opens the other to receive the gift of the invitation and in turn join in the dance as a partner to complete the ask.

I learnt from a past Premier, never to be afraid to ask, what is the worst that can happen – they say no and you at least now know that is the answer so you have more than you did before the ask. I have developed a shamelessness in asking over time, and try and put the ask as an act of anticipation and invitation to join something bigger. I am rarely disappointed and if the answer is no, the door is still ajar to come back again or work towards another opportunity.

There is the ask that comes with deep humility and the acceptance with gratitude and honour for having been asked. These moments are often sacred and bring a wholeness to both parties. Being asked to hold another’s hand in childbirth, on a death bed, in a chamber of horrors … all asks imbued with deep privilege dripping from the moment into a future sacred memory.

Ask and you shall receive, knock and the door shall be opened … lines from the Christian tradition equally matched in other religious traditions. To ask is an intentional act and being able to ask is to put yourself in a position of vulnerability; after all you might be rejected. But without asking you will remain innocent and blind to the possibility of unlocking or unleashing of a latent gift longing to be shared.

To ask, is a promise to tomorrow, the future embedded in the act. As well as asking more, there is the respect I can bring to the asks that come my way, to give them the due courtesy they deserve to be answered honestly and as often as I can.

I am being asked a lot right now in my life, and to receive the questions with the purity they deserve, uninfected by fears is a discipline to tomorrow. To live in the ask, is to live with openness and possibility, to act as if every invitation is a step towards wholeness. Living the questions brings the gift of an ask. Every question is embedded with an ask to ourselves. As Rainer Maria Rilke writes:

“Be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves, like locked rooms and like books that are now 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.”


Bee and Grevillia in Willunga

Deep Time Moments

284102_2251618859109_1507394760_32466063_7443968_nI was listening to a TED talk by Hendrik Poiner about bringing back the woolly mammoth and he mentioned our love affair with these creatures from the Ice Age. He made a number of hypothesis of way this might be so, but the one that struck me was the concept of deep time – the concept of geologic time.

In doing a little wikipedia research, and one click led to another, I was drawn to Avicenna who wrote a book of healing in the sixth century that was still being used in your time Hildegard and I wondered if you ever saw it?

Deep time connecting us beyond rock and clay.

I occasionally connect with someone that I feel I have known for generations, there being something familiar and comfortable in the space created between us and within a very short time intimacy occurs. An expression, a few words, a touch, an idea that magnetically fuses us into one single moment.  Maybe it is deep time that has connected us – we may have both come from the same part of the earth or rock formation or our mitochondria recognises each other!

I have an expectation that I will be having some more of these moments in my life as my travels start. Being on the road as a pilgrim, and even when I approach my everyday life as a journey, I discover many more people in my path that I have a deep connection too.  When I get to the land of my ancestors, I will not be surprised if, I find, deep time waiting for me as it has for aeons.  There will be single moments of connection to the rock and clay, the seascape and the landscape, the people for whom that place has been their own for generations, and for pilgrims like me who pass through once in a lifetime, like a comet.  Time could well stand still creating that most exquisite moment of intimacy where there is no space at all between the past, the present and the future.

Even when you don’t know you have a wound to heal, these moments seem to find a cut or a bruise or a festering sore that needs healing and the moment is a soothing balm and you come to a realisation that there was a closed wound within you that was benefitting from the dressing or liniment being offered by the moment. The body and soul more whole than it was before.

The Aboriginal people of the Flinders Ranges call themselves Adnyamathanha which means rock people.  The rock owns them.  It has been my privilege to be on their land many times and the deep time that they know in their very DNA is not separated by real time. Their dreamtime transcends and brings a constant intimacy with the whole cosmos and all beings past, present and future.  Perhaps I will get a taste of what Adnyamathanha know when I am in the land of my ancestors?

The separation from your homeland lasts across deep time. This pilgrimage might turn out to be a bit of heart surgery – perhaps the equivalent of a stent being put in – to keep the blood flowing and end a blockage that is currently undetected? Deep time moments of heart work beckon.

Rainer Maria Rilke writes in Turning Point:

For there is a boundary to looking.

And the world that is looked at so deeply

wants to flourish in love.

Work of the eyes is done, now

go and do heart-work

on all the images imprisoned within you.