Jessica Rosenberg pointed me to a very nice post on her blog today. It inspired me to repost this post that I wrote 3 1/2 years ago. With all of the uncertainty that seems to be surrounding us these days, these words seem to still hold true.
A friend, Pete Takeda,
just passed along the Preface to his upcoming book about a recent trip
he did the Indian Himalayan mountains to retrace the steps of a CIA
covert operation in the 1950's above 20,000 feet. It's destined to be a
To begin the Preface Pete used a Helen Keller quote to set the tone:
Security is mostly a superstition. It does not exist in nature, nor do the children of man as a whole experience it. Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure. Life is a daring adventure or nothing.
Keller's words reminded me of the security we try to find in our relationships, whether it's someone we live with, work with or even a customer. Many times we gloss over the signs of change or danger, lured by a false sense of security. Every once and a while, before we realize that something is wrong, the paradigm has shifted. The relationship has soured.
Isn't it better to realize that a relationship with anyone is tenuous, at best. Any relationship needs to be tended to regularly. Instead of taking it for granted, it needs to be explored constantly. When thinking about this need to explore a relationship in a deeper way I am often taken back to the words of the poet Ranier Marie Rilke:
Only someone who is ready for everything, who doesn't exclude any experience, even the most incomprehensible, will himself sound the depths of his own being. For if we imagine this being of the individual as a larger or smaller room, it is obvious that most people come to know only one corner of their room, one spot near the window, one narrow strip on which they keep walking back and forth.
In this way they have a certain security. And yet how much more human is the dangerous insecurity that drives those prisoners in Poe's stories to feel out the shapes of their horrible dungeons and not be strangers to the unspeakable terror of their cells. We, however, are not prisoners. No traps or snares have been set around us, and there is nothing that should frighten or upset us.
We have been put into life as into the element we most accord with, and we have, moreover, through thousands of years of adaptation, come to resemble this life so greatly that when we hold still, through a fortunate mimicry we can hardly be differentiated from everything around us. We have no reason to harbor any mistrust against our world, for it is not against us.
If it has terrors, they are our terrors; if it has abysses, these abysses belong to us; if there are dangers, we must try to love them. And if only we arrange our life in accordance with the principle which tells us that we must always trust in the difficult, then what now appears to us as the most alien will become our most intimate and trusted experience.
How could we forget those ancient myths that stand at the beginning of all races, the myths about dragons that at the last moment are transformed into princesses? Perhaps all the dragons in our lives are princesses who are only waiting to see us act, just once, with beauty and courage. Perhaps everything that frightens us is, in its deepest essence’ something helpless that needs our love.
Can we all act with more beauty and courage?