Look at the flowers, so faithful to what is earthly,
to whom we lend fate from the very border of fate.
And if they are sad about how they must wither and die,
perhaps it is our vocation to be their regret.
All Things want to fly. Only we are weighed down by desire,
caught in ourselves and enthralled with our heaviness.
Oh what consuming, negative teachers we are
for them, while eternal childhood fills them with grace.
If someone were to fall into intimate slumber, and slept
deeply with Things—: how easily he would come
to a different day, out of the mutual depth.
Or perhaps he would stay there; and they would blossom and
their newest convert, who now is like one of them,
all those silent companions in the wind of the meadows.
— Rainer Maria Rilke, The Sonnets to Orpheus, II, 14
I caught glimpses of the sunrise, spectacular and flamboyant, dancing with clouds and still water, on the train from Boston to New York. I lamented the missed opportunity for an Instagram-worthy photo while stifling the urge to pull out my camera phone to give it an attempt. No picture from an iPhone through dirty chatter-proof glass flying across the landscape at 50 miles per hour was going to capture the magic of the moment. So I let it pass, like so many moments, into memory.
I don’t come often enough to Rilke, who spun his own magic a century ago. I may visit with him more often this year, hopefully not with the overindulgence I’ve displayed with Mary Oliver poems, but… enough. This is a year for magic and becoming reacquainted with the world. For venturing forth and rekindling our eternal childhood.
We all want to fly. What holds us back but fear and heaviness? Shouldn’t we reach for the sky and dance with our silent companions in the wind? Fragility doesn’t stop nature, though everything has its time. Knowing this, but choosing not to be paralyzed by it, shouldn’t we all climb out of this mutual depth and make these different days?