29 March 02
"Marriage is in many ways a simplification of life, and it naturally combines the strengths and will of two young people so that, together they seem to reach farther into the future than they did before. Above all, marriage is a new task and a new seriousness, a new demand on the strength and generosity of each partner, and a great new danger for both.
"The point of marriage is not to create a quick commonality by tearing down all boundaries; on the contrary, a good marriage is one in which each partner appoints the other to be the guardian of his solitude, and thus they show each other the greatest possible trust. A merging of two people is an impossibility, and where it seems to exist, it is a hemming-in, a mutual consent that robs one party or both parties of their fullest freedom and development. But once the realization is accepted that even between the closest people infinite distances exist, a marvelous living side-by-side can grow up for them, if they succeed in loving the expanse between them, which give them the possibility of always seeing each other as a whole and before and immense sky.
"That is why this too must be the criterion for rejection or choice: whether you are willing to stand guard over someone else's solitude, and whether you are able to set this same person at the gate of our own depths, which he learns of only through what steps forth, in holiday clothing, out of the great darkness.
"Life is self-transformation, and human relationships, which are an extract of life are the most changeable of all, they rise and fall from minute to minute, and lovers are those for whom no moment is like any other; people between whom nothing habitual ever takes place, nothing that has already existed, but just what is new, unexpected, unprecedented. There are such connections, which must be very great, an almost unbearable happiness, but they can occur only between very rich beings, between those who have become, each for his own sake, rich, calm, and concentrated; only if two worlds are wide and deep and individual can they be combined. Young people, it is obvious, can't achieve a connection like this, but if they understand their lives correctly, they can slowly grow up to such happiness and prepare themselves for it. When they love, they must not forget that they are beginners, bunglers of life, apprentices in love they must learn to love, and that (like all learning) takes calm, patience, and composure.
"To take love seriously and to undergo it and learn it like a profession, that is what young people need to do. Like so many other things, people have also misunderstood the position love has in life; they have made it into play and pleasure because they thought that play and pleasure are more blissful than work; but there is nothing happier than work, and love, precisely because it is the supreme happiness, can be nothing other than work. So those who love must try to act as if they had a great work to accomplish: they must be much alone and go into themselves and gather and concentrate themselves; they must work; they must become something.
"For the more we are, the richer everything we experience is, and those who want to have a deep love in their lives must collect and save for it, and gather honey."
Rainer Maria Rilke, Letters to a Young Poet
(translated by Stephen Mitchell)
Copyright © 2002 New Moon