Do Not Seek The Answers
In the Fall of my year of awakening I lived in this lovely apartment with a second story porch overlooking my neighborhood. Each day, unemployed and with nothing better to do, I found myself drawn to that space. Some days I would write or read, but many days I would simply sit and let the world sink into me. The hours of solitude began to bring things into focus, including oddly enough, my neighbor’s tree which sat directly in my line of sight. It really was an ordinary oak tree, nothing special about it. But that tree would be my opening, the way inside myself.
That simple, beautiful, strong tree became my life’s question mark.
As the weather started to cool I watched that tree begin to turn its leaves and I couldn’t help but wonder about my own life. Didn’t I, deep in my soul, feel that same turning? Didn’t I too feel unable to control what was happening to me? For weeks I watched that tree’s leaves burn into amazingly beautiful autumn colors. It was letting go and doing so beautifully, with a strength and grace I envied. It stayed rooted and strong, doing what simply came naturally. With each passing day that tree invited me more deeply into myself. It was as if that tree were talking directly to me, encouraging me to see my pain differently, to get curious about what else was going on underneath it all.
And so each morning, with cup of coffee in hand, I watched. I knew that the turning leaves meant the tree would soon lose its leaves and be laid bare to the world – a feeling I knew all too well. We were kindred spirits that tree and I. Both of us tossed about, struggling to stay rooted, fighting an overwhelming desire to avoid this thing that feels like death. The Autumn beauty of the tree’s letting go stirred so many questions. How did I get here? What had I not been seeing? Where was the beauty in my story, in my own letting go? What might happen if I could embrace this season of pain and change? What magical, mysterious thing was turning in me, calling me to let go, holding for me the promise of Spring?
As I watched that tree bask in the Autumn beauty of its own dying only to completely give up its leaves to the cold and winter, I felt a deep sense of comfort. I was emboldened. What I had witnessed assured me that my pain and all that was lying underneath it would not break me. I was going to be okay. And then mysteriously, one day I felt my soul shifting. I was able to tell myself a different story about my life. A much gentler, life-giving story. In this story everything in creation, even us, is broken at least some of the time, and that brokenness holds, if not meaning, at least possibility and hope. With the unfolding of this story comes more questions that seem at least for now, to have no answers. Some days I take them out and let them play across the pages of my journal. Other days they sit silent and strong, deeply rooted in my soul, just like that tree. The questions no longer unsettle me. They are a welcome and necessary companion on my journey toward wholeness and healing and authenticity.
"Be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves. Do not now seek the answers, which cannot be given you because you would not be able to live them. And the point is to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps you will then gradually, without noticing it, live along, some distant day into the answer."
- Rainer Maria Rilke