“Have patience with everything that remains unsolved in your heart. Try to love the questions themselves, like locked rooms and like books written in a foreign language. Do not now look for the answers. They cannot now be given to you because you could not live them. It is a question of experiencing everything. At present you need to live the question. Perhaps you will gradually, without even noticing it, find yourself experiencing the answer, some distant day. “
— ‘Letters to a Young Poet’, Rainer Maria Rilke
Patience isn’t my strongest suit. I’m a goal oriented kind of guy. Add to that my tendency for obsessiveness. In fact, I’m a recovering perfectionist. I say recovering because I used to drive myself absolutely nuts with wasteful behaviour. Eventually I couldn’t put up with myself and began a path of letting go. A few months ago, prior to Ironman Coeur d’Alene, a realisation arose that I’d been overly serious about many things in my life. The people close to me responded as expected, “uh, no kidding Sherlock.” …But I digress.
As an endurance athlete I love to exercise, to be outdoors, to move my body, to be fit. But because there’s a tendency to remain focused on the goal, there’s always an internal tug of war. The body is relishing in the present moment, but the mind is racing to the end of the workout and what comes next, i.e. food, rest, and daily tasks. This conflict is aggravating and undermines getting fit, healthier, and living in balance, peace, and with vitality. The struggle absorbs energy thereby compromising longevity.
Do you ever watch a video of experts magically doing their thing, or movies where someone advances, in the space of an hour, from beginner to masterfully skilled? I want that! I want what I want–right now.
Don’t get me wrong. I find that goals are helpful because they provide an infrastructure on which drive builds. But it’s in the present moment that the magic happens, that enjoyment exists, that life force manifests itself. What I hear in Rilke’s quote above is *surrender*. When I can be present, just enjoying the NOW experience both development and healing are always ongoing.
“At present you need to live the question.”
Translated into my mantra, “Enjoy each step.” For, truly, there *is* only the current step. (Admittedly it’s easier said than done.)