Monday, October 26, 2009

Rocking with Rilke





"The purpose of life is to be defeated by greater and greater things"    -Rilke
Today was one of those dark rainy Portland mornings that screams stay home.  True we get a lot of rain here, and we like that, but not today.  It pounded down in sheets that flooded streets in seconds and left some neighborly custodians of the storm drains battling just to stand up.  
Part of me just wanted to roll over an die.  I've been battling a nasty cold that moved from sore throat to deep in my lungs overnight.  I would have just rocked in my favorite rocking chair and hoped for sleep too (God I sound old!) but Katie had to babysit for her niece and I needed to get up and get her there and just b on stand-by.  She likes it that way, and we try to be there for one another in bad weather.
So here I sit in a crowded little coffeehouse on the border between NE and N Portland.  Somehow in this hour or two of need I went to the web and found my old friend Rilke.  Even his profundity can be soothing to a head cold.  The quote above jumped out at me, if only for it's contradictory nature. 
Rilke is so much a bridge between Western and Eastern thought for me. His ideas can be stated so simply and contain so much.  To be defeated by greater and greater things is a nice way to look at disappointment.  It's also another way to say that the meaning of life is in the transitions, and to keep pushing forward against everything from all odds to the self-righteous, from the misguided to the misunderstood, the privileged and power-driven to the silent and frightened.
Rilke helps me breathe a little easier today.

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