not knowing

During times of transformation there are frequent periods of not knowing.  One of my favorite passages on this state of time is from the poet, Rainer Maria Rilke.

“…so before all beginning, and I want to beg you, as much as I can, dear sir, to be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves liked 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.” (from Letters to a Young Poet, Rainer Maria Rilke)

In a conversation with my youngest child yesterday, we talked about the frustrations of not knowing and he asked the question, “How do you figure out what you want to do, what you want to be in your life, when you have no passionate feelings towards anything particular?”

That is a question I have lived most of my life.  Sure, I had certain skills, things that could translate into the job market, but no feelings of being called to any type of vocation.  I envied those who seem to know their path.  Not knowing affected how I felt about myself.  I felt lost, without any direction.

Now, at the age of 52, I look back at those years of not knowing as a gift.  They allowed me to explore many different paths, and in each one, I learned something new.  The culmination of everything I learned and experienced made me who I am today.  I feel more secure with myself, less disturbed by the not knowing.  In fact, I rather like that part of me now.

My initial response to my son’s discomfort with his not knowing was to try and fix it.  I wanted to ask questions that led him to the answers, but each thing I said only brought up more questions.  I know now that he has to live his way to the answers, just as I did.

Yours in transformation,



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