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. — Rainer Maria Rilke
Last week I found this piece when searching for another story to submit for the Welcomed Consesnsus Sensual Story contest. I wrote this four years ago. This is not my current life story. I’ve always loved Rainer Maria Rilke’s book Letters to a Young Poet. Having read it first in my 20s, I can now say three decades later, it is true that by living everything, you do indeed live into your answers. This boy is happily married elsewhere to someone who answers all his questions. They both deserve their bliss and I wish them everlasting health and infinite time to enjoy their love.
The Boy has been incredible. He’s been with me for 115 hours. We had a date set up for last Saturday. I’d said he could come over at 3 p.m.. I let him walk over this time, as I was so busy processing my own fears from the previous day’s little dance with the cancer doctor.
He arrived at 3:30. He’d asked if he could also be with me in the evening. After being in a relationship with me since July 16, he’d been kept on a very long leash. I would only see him when he was behaving and not pressuring me. In the beginning, for the first two weeks, I think we were together almost constantly. I couldn’t take in enough of his hands on me. His over the top Italian passion after 12 years with a rigid Protestant was like finally getting some sun after a decade under ground.
It’s not that we didn’t have problems. We did and because of this our time together dwindled over the days. I’d gotten to the point that I couldn’t take him in because all the pressure to let him in more often overwhelmed me. I remember in the very beginning, this man who has never had a computer, threw a tiny tantrum when I left his side to sit in front of my desk computer. I’d come to realize that he was like a man who’d been on a deserted island for the last 15 years, since he got sick and life as he knew it ended for him.
Before my diagnosis, I even remember thinking that he was the cause for one of the nodules that felt like it was growing and which was the main reason why I was spooked enough to see Mom’s cancer doctor. I thought that letting him go, in other words, breaking up this last time, which was the sixth or seventh time in as many months, was the reason the nodule seemed to disappear.
And yet, ever since Saturday he has been calm, supportive, encouraging and patient. He’s cooked for me. He’s massaged me constantly. He even wore a pair of my Victoria Secret flannel pajamas and let me take his picture. He has been the epitome of reassurance that this bout with cancer will not wreak havoc in my life.
One day he sat behind me as I wrote a blog. Another day he sat on the couch reading a cookbook while I worked in my office on the computer. Yesterday he said, “I have to let you do what you do so you can be who you must be.” This is a man who loves not only every inch of me, but also the vast volumes of me inside that can’t be seen or touched. He says to me, “I love how you do things. I watch you constantly. Everything you do, you do with all you have and even when you are zoning out, something within is still ticking away inside.”
He speaks with authority when he talks about how he couldn’t let his illness take away his every single day even though the fear of having another seizure grips him almost every morning. He talks about structure, discipline, feeling good about doing what he say he’ll do and having that good feeling of accomplishment keep him buoyant. I reflect simultaneously on how rarely I do what I say I’ll do and how often I feel badly I don’t keep my own word.
They say you can’t love another if you don’t love yourself. This also works if you reverse the concept. You can’t let another love you, if you won’t love yourself. Why is being in love with the self so tough? Why, for all these years, regardless of what I accomplished or how much others loved me, I couldn’t truly let love in?
There are all kinds of culprits; Madison Avenue, unconscious parenting, organized religion’s belief that robed patriarchal MAN OF GOD is the only access plebeians have to contact the higher powers, school systems which use competition to root out less worthies for advancement and of course peer pressure to conform or be ousted.
Why must humans cut other humans down rather than do the work of feeling feelings that feel bad and learning how to integrate what said feelings teach an individual about themselves. Why is honestly accessing one’s innermost depths so shunned, not only in Communist China but also in almost all countries on the planet?
Why is self-image so twisted and often altered from the way that other people see the soul in question? Most of us worry so much if others will accept us, that we totally overlook the question of whether we accept ourselves.
My mother use to say, “You either have the highest self-esteem or the lowest self-esteem.” This was because I didn’t focus much on what I was wearing or whether my hair was in place. I never focused on fashion and couldn’t be bothered to compete with others in the external appearance department. The Boy said last night; “I love you regardless of what you wear. I love that we can hang together and not shower for three days.” Then we hugged each other and took a shower together.
He said, “If and when you lose your hair, I’m going to shave my head. You aren’t going to go through this alone.” I have to examine of course, if I’m using him? If this situation is fair to him? And yet, his company, his words of wisdom about how to live with an illness, how to not let it take over your life is like manna to my ears around the clock.
I’ve never truly let love in before. I’ve felt the picture with the person didn’t fit the picture in my head. Yet, a few morning’s ago, when I woke up and found he wasn’t in bed beside me I can’t truly express how I felt when I found him on my couch, with my black glasses on his black eyes reading my IMMORTAL LOVERS book. Can I say I swooned and you’ll know what I mean? Can I say the picture for that moment lined up just perfect and I could see it clearly for the first time? I guess I can say anything I want to say because he told me I could. And in truth, I know that what I think transpires, and I’m really devoted to healing my negative self-talk which I’ve allowed to get the best of me for most of my life.”
Living the doubts, living the fears, living the pain of pressure, living the release of pressure, living the relationship and living the solitude, one steps day by day into one’s real home that no one can take away from you.