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Verse Diversions: Rainer Maria Rilke Remembrance and Striving against Better


I like New Year’s resolutions, and long-term goals and setting one year, five year and even retirement plans. And yes, I’m acutely aware of how long I have before retirement and that this is not healthy to pine for at my age. This is who I am. But is it who I want to be?


Long-term goal setting isn’t the best practice for a person who is constantly striving to be better and never quite able to reach the mark. Yes, I also know Matthew 6:34 by heart, but I am a flawed person. I carry around these ugly friends called guilt and fear of failure.


But, what if this year I made targeted my goals towards getting rid of these guys? And maybe also cut back on the goals. Any other perfectionists out there sick of not meeting their impossible marks? Well, let me take you on a little self-reflection journey on why my extreme goal setting may not be the healthiest start to the New Year.


There is a famous poet by the name Rainer Maria Rilke who I love. I’ll be honest, I don’t know a lot about him (and yes, I also thought he was a she at first). He lived from 1875-1926, wrote primarily in German (thank-you Wikipedia) and everything I have read by him makes me reconsider the deepest questions of who I am (when in English, of course).


Rilke wrote a poem called “Remembrance” (translated by many from German) that I came across when researching favorite poems for the #authorschallenge2019. When I found this version, I could not stop reading it over, and over again:


I am not an expert on poetry, nor do I claim to have any schooling on Existentialism. I am also aware that his beliefs differed greatly from my own, but there is a truth to what he said that I think all of us perfectionists and planners need to hear.


I read these words, and I don’t want to plan or live in waiting for what I may become. I just want to live. I can reflect on my past, with the innocence of new boots splashing through clear puddles, and remember the sensation of the white gossamer veil barely concealing a stinging joy, and in these moments I know I have lived both an ordinary and extravagant life.


I don’t want to wait on the future, with dreams of climbing to a momentous summit or achieving a better combination of words. I want to live now. In this moment. To be content with what has been lived - not even achieved, or mastered or accomplished. To live with the peace that each moment is a treasure that, when reflected back upon, may be the year, day or minute I was waiting for- the one that awakened a dormant stone and revealed me to myself.

Will I still make goals? Likely. But, will I hold my life in wait for that most necessary moment of achievement? No. Nothing in the future can make life better beyond the recognition that today was lived- in all it’s flaws and inadequacies - not necessarily better, but well.


This post was part of the Five Minute Friday blogging community prompt : BETTER


#resolutions #guilt #Rilke #hopeprose #moments #versediversions #amwriting #writerscommunity