Go into yourself. Find out the reason that commands you to write; see whether it has spread its roots into the very depths of your heart; confess to yourself whether you would have to die if you were forbidden to write.
This most of all: ask yourself in the most silent hour of your night: must I write? Dig into yourself for a deep answer. And if this answer rings out in assent, if you meet this solemn question with a strong, simple “I must,” then build your life in accordance with this necessity; your whole life, even into its humblest and most indifferent hour, must become a sign and witness to this impulse. Then come close to Nature. Then, as if no one had ever tried before, try to say what you see and feel and love and lose…
…Describe your sorrows and desires, the thoughts that pass through your mind and your belief in some kind of beauty – describe all these with heartfelt, silent, humble sincerity and, when you express yourself, use the Things around you, the images from your dreams, and the objects that you remember. If your everyday life seems poor, don’t blame it; blame yourself; admit to yourself that you are not enough of a poet to call forth its riches; because for the creator there is not poverty and no poor, indifferent place. And even if you found yourself in some prison, whose walls let in none of the world’s sounds – wouldn’t you still have your childhood, that jewel beyond all price, that treasure house of memories? Turn your attentions to it. Try to raise up the sunken feelings of this enormous past; your personality will grow stronger, your solitude will expand and become a place where you can live in the twilight, where the noise of other people passes by, far in the distance. – And if out of this turning-within, out of this immersion in your own world, poems come, then you will not think of asking anyone whether they are good or not. Nor will you try to interest magazines in these works: for you will see them as your dear natural possession, a piece of your life, a voice from it. A work of art is good if it has arisen out of necessity. That is the only way one can judge it.
― Rainer Maria Rilke
It was a clear, bright noon. When walking home, I found myself to be alone, the entire street suddenly deserted, and light to be fast fading. As the sun hid completely, I saw a figure descend from above. My mind knew inexplicably, that it was a God, the God of Love.
My jaw dropped open at the sight of him. I stared at him blankly. I was astounded not out of awe, but out of surprise. He wasn’t anything like I had pictured. Clad in a simple white robe, he looked at me with gentle eyes. There was no divine light or halo over his head. Much like his clothing, his appearance was simple.
“Not what you had expected, eh?” he said, with a knowing twinkle in his eyes.
“No,” I said stupidly. What was I supposed to say? That I was expecting to see a glowing cherub with heart shaped arrows and bows?
Laughing heartily, he said to me, “It’s funny how your mind works. Love is not always flowers and hearts you see.”
“But…but..bu-t…” I stuttered. “But if love isn’t like that, then what is?” he said finishing my unuttered question. I simply nodded. “Come, I’ll show you,” he said taking me by the hand.
We walked along the street stopping at the side of a river. I saw a painter at work, painting the stream. It was a fairly small one, with a few plants growing by its side.
“Why does this stream fascinate you so much?” I asked him. “It’ a small stream,” I said.
Looking up from his work for the first time, the painter said, “Here you see the stream twisting and flowing around a few rocks, and disappearing into the distance. But I see the glacier it melted from, the mountain it flowed down from, the boulders it twisted and curved around, the way it changed from a mountain spring to a bubbling brook, the river it became, the trees that swayed on its bank, the farmers ploughing their fields along its borders, the fish swimming in it, the boats let into its waters by children and the lovers that sat along its bank, gazing into each other’s depths. Yet to you, it is only a stream.”
“It must take tremendous practice and work to do this,” I commented, impressed by his little talk. “Nah, it only takes love.” And with that, he resumed his painting.
The God signaled me to walk ahead. As we walked into the street, I saw an old woman, bending over with age, distributing food to urchins.
“Why do you do this?” I said, “Have you seen their nubile bodies? They look like they have rolled in the mud. Do not touch them, you will contract their diseases.” She smiled up at me from her half rimmed spectacles and said, “I lost my only grandson in the spring. Since then, life has never been the same. I have taken up the task to feed as many mouths as I can while I live. Often times, I see their little eyes shining with gratitude and I feel my grandson back with me again. It’s my way of keeping him close.”
“But don’t you feel the pain of his loss gnawing at your heart?” I asked. “Of course, I do,” she said. “But isn’t that the only way you learn to love?”
And again, the God lead me by the hand and ushered me to walk. We reached a hilltop where a young couple sat looking out into the sunset. My footfalls disturbed their moment. Yet, they seemed unperturbed. They beckoned me with their hands and offered me a seat on their bench.
“Sit,” said the God, sensing my reluctance on intruding their privacy. “Where are you from?” I asked the man. “London,” he said. “And she’s from Paris.”
“Does she speak English?” I asked gesturing towards the young lady. “No, and neither do I speak French.”
“But how do you communicate?” I asked, shocked.
“We understand each other better than anyone else. We don’t need words to communicate. It’s funny how love doesn’t need a language,” he said, turning towards the setting sun.
I sat on the hilltop with the two strangers I had just met and started to cry. I was overwhelmed. The tears flowed freely of their own accord. I saw myself in the blazing sun, in the pink glow that tinted the sky, in the trees that swayed on the hillside, in the painter, in the stream that he painted, in the old lady, in the urchins and in the two lovers. The tears flowed faster. Try as I might, I couldn’t stop crying. I was crying not because I was sad, but because for the first time in my life, I was alive. I was love. I was infinite love.
“It’s time to go,” said the God, jerking me out of my reverie.
I followed his footsteps and we arrived at the street we had started from. “You might be wondering why I did not give you any jargon on love. It was because I wanted you to experience and feel it for yourself. It can be quite overwhelming sometimes, eh?” he said, referring to my moment at the hilltop.
“Yes. But why is that I feel this void, this emptiness of love in my life at times?”
“It’s because you never knew how to ask for it,” he said, slowly ascending into the clouds.
“So all I need to do is ask?” I shouted as I saw him vanishing into the heavens.
As he disappeared into the sky, he said, “Ask, and ye shall receive.”
As I look outside my window, I notice the blurry red and yellow car lights flashing their way through the torrential showers. I see children wading across pools of murky waters. I hear the whistling policeman as he jostles the ever growing traffic. And I see myself, standing by the window, wishing for a clear starlit night.
I wish for a lot of things. I wish for the romantic love, the best friends, the attractive beauty, and the perfect life. I wish for a lot of things unsaid and unheard. Each of these wishes forms a twinkling star, illuminating the deep blue sky. I long to see these diamonds as I stand day after day by the window wishing and hoping for a clear sky.
But something dawns on me. I can sit and hope forever and watch as the rain washes away sparkle after sparkle. Or I can listen to another voice, another tiny being that whispers in the recesses of my heart and mind.
Often as I lie in bed, I hear it singing songs of joy and love. I hear it whooping in victory as it celebrates the world. And in the absolute quiet of the night, I hear its slow steady breathing.
And all of a sudden, the darkness seems to be filled with a warm glow. My ears buzz with a music that strums to the beat of my heart. And I smell an aroma, a fresh aroma that spirals out of the soft moist earth.
I run to window, rejoicing in the way the droplets caress my face washing away all traces of tiredness. I watch the sparrow as she flutters from one branch to another, ruffling her wings and shaking out drops of rainwater.
I watch the car lights move in and out of focus through the torrents, the kids making their way home as they splash through the puddles and the policeman as he tries to jostle the ever growing traffic.
I look towards the stormy grey sky as I see the clouds rolling in. Astonishingly, I don’t want a clear sky anymore.
There are some weird things I do. And a post like this is testimony to this fact. I have a habit of complimenting my acquaintances. I don’t know why, but the kindness and randomness of strangers overwhelms me and makes me feel something that I haven’t felt in ages: love.
Since a long, long time, I have felt a gnawing at my heart. It isn’t the melodramatic hole in the heart earth shattering gnawing. It is more like an inward coil… a constraint…that pulls me back from enjoyment and glee.
That constricting feeling is still there in my heart. Maybe because I am afraid that if I let go, I will fall into nothingness. Although lately, I have started to unclench. I have let myself be beaten and bruised. I have let myself feel alone and unloved. I have let myself be hurt and terrified. And I have let myself fail.
I repeat these words and feelings over and over again, and might do so again. I know some of these words hold no meaning at all and some speak mountains about my faith. But isn’t that why we all write, draw, sing or create? It is to bring forth the happenings of the world and life and the sweet spot that rests in between. We bring it forth in different shades, in different strokes and in different words. It is in this sweet spot that even the most revolting sight can evoke wonder and the most breathtaking sight can evoke apathy. It is in knowing this sweet spot as your face to the world and as your personal haven to your inner being. The inner being that craves to be a child again. The being that wishes for magic and fairy tales. The being longs to be cradled and loved.
It is in each one of us. It maybe repressed, suppressed, forgotten or ignored, but present and breathing like a living creature. It speaks and understands only one language, one word and one emotion: love. And it is with this unconditional and irrevocable love that I write this post to all of you.
I realize that I can’t be so cynical anymore. If there is one thing that I can do, it is to give. Give my love and joy with hugs and smiles. And with each smile that I give, the gnawing at my heart gradually starts to lessen.
Life isn’t all harsh on me these days. Nor is it all sunshine and daisies. But I have chosen to love everything and anything in its total form and way. As I let this love grow, the grass seems greener, the stars shine brighter and the sorrow seems lighter.
There are many things that I have come to know and understand. I have come to know that there is a wonderful world out there. A world of love and abundance. A world of carefree laughter and ice creams. A world of witchcraft and wizardry. A world that never ceases to whisper five letters-