Forgetting the Old Myths
“We have no reason to mistrust our world, for it is not against us. If it has terrors, they are our own terrors. If it has precipices, they belong to us. If dangers are present, we must try to love them: And if we fashion our life according to that principle, which advices us to embrace that which is difficult, then that which appears to us to be the very strangest will become the most worthy of our trust, and the truest.
How could we be capable of forgetting the old myths that stand at the threshold of all mankind, myths of dragons transforming themselves at the last moment into princesses? Perhaps all dragons in our lives are really princesses just waiting to see us just once be beautiful and courageous. Perhaps everything fearful is basically helplessness that seeks our help.” — Rainer Maria Rilke, Letters to a Young Poet
The latter part of this quote is making its second appearance in this blog, following a post in September 2019 when all of us were different people than we are now. I wonder, if I were to use it again in 2025, who might we all be then? Will we be more beautiful and courageous in our work? Will we embrace our personal terrors and ride them to greater heights? Or will dragons roam our minds, tricking us into timidity?
The Latin word vocō means to “call, summon or beckon in our own voice”. From it we’ve derived the English word vocation. We often get trapped in that classic question of identity: “What do you do for work?” Isn’t the bolder question, the question that creates a stir, “What is your calling?” Words, used just so, invoke myths or magic.
The old myths survive because we nurture them. We must be bold with our today, and slay our dragons. We must celebrate the path that brought us here but not be imprisoned by what will never be again. We must decide what we’ll be tomorrow and set the table for it today. We must create new myths.