Rainer Maria Rilke

I read a lot of works (and write a bit too) about the desire to merge with “the other”. To break down whatever barriers there are and be one with our love. It’s a romantic thought and I absolutely see it’s appeal…it is impossible though. No matter what level of intimacy is achieved, there is always a void between us and the other that cannot be traversed. You can never fully know your partner nor they you. Between the most intimate of partners, parts remain in the shadow. This shouldn’t be a huge surprise because the reality is that coming to simply know yourself fully is probably beyond us. If we can not come to know ourselves, how can we every hope to completely know our other. One of the many essential tasks in a relationship is to become comfortable with this idea. Accept that our other will never be able to fully know us, nor we them and that is not because of a fault or lack of interest or energy…it’s just an is, a truth. I do love how Rilke flipped things around and makes claim that distance is what “makes it possible for each to see the other whole against the sky.” In other words, to see your partner in their entirety, space is a requirement. You can only appreciate a beautiful landscape at a distance.

11 Comments

  1. I think because of the way I was assisted in viewing myself, I’ve taken a bit of comfort in this, that there are parts of me that people I have intimate relationships can never know. I suppose that’s somewhat sad in a broad view, never the less comforting for me as I forge those relationships.
    This is also a dual feeling for me, one of the greatest pin pricks into my existential anxiety. Transitioning into the understanding that we are alone in this thing. I’ve worked hard to shift that back into, but because of people, we are never ‘alone’ in ways that are vital.

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    1. Born alone, alone even in the closest relationship, and make the last journey into death alone. A shared human experience that we all make alone….existential angst anyone? The “void” can be comforting…it can also be lonely and a wall. I suppose the challenge is to not use it as a shield. Then again, I suck at it, so what do I know? Thanks for your perspective. I have a tendency to intellectualize and “dial out”, I like how you personalize and “dial in”.

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    1. So…I do not like Rilke’s poetry. He was German writing in French…then translated to English. I always feel I’m missing something. The flow just doesn’t feel right. However, he was the equivalent of a rock star in his day and people from all over Europe would send him questions about life and love, and his responses are absolutely brilliant and lovely. He did not follow his own advice, few of us do or even can, but even a drowning man can save others.

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