I was talking with a friend the other day about the strangeness of new experiences. I’ve noticed lately this unfamiliar sensation of newness in much of my life and, instead of running screaming in the other direction, I was explaining to him that I am beginning to recognize this strange feeling as a good thing. “I don’t know . . . I guess I am beginning to look for that vague discomfort—it lets me know I am headed in the right direction. Do you know what I mean?”
“Of course I know what you mean,” he said. “In those moments you’re running right up against faith.” It’s easy enough to function on autopilot, he explained. But when we take a risk, try something new, go to a place that’s unfamiliar, well, that takes an act of faith. “Isn’t that what faith is? Believing what you can’t see?”
He was right, of course, and even though talking about this sort of thing is a big part of my professional occupation, sometimes I need to be reminded too. The uneasiness, the unfamiliarity, the places to grow . . . when I have the courage to go there I am running right up against faith.So, for today and all these thoughts, a poem by Rainer Maria Rilke:
Want the change. Be inspired by the flame
where everything shines as it disappears.
The artist, when sketching, loves nothing so much
as the curve of the body as it turns away.
What locks itself in sameness has congealed.
Is it safer to be gray and numb?
What turns hard becomes rigid
and is easily shattered.
Pour yourself out like a fountain.
Flow into the knowledge that what you are seeking
finishes often at the start, and, with ending, begins.
Every happiness is the child of a separation
it did not think it could survive. And Daphne, becoming a laurel,
dares you to become the wind.
Sonnets to Orpheus Part 2, XII by Rainer Maria Rilke