Dragons and Princesses

Fear of the Inexplicable

But fear of the inexplicable has not alone impoverished
the existence of the individual; the relationship between
one human being and another has also been cramped by it,
as though it had been lifted out of the riverbed of
endless possibilities and set down in a fallow spot on the
bank, to which nothing happens. For it is not inertia alone
that is responsible for human relationships repeating
themselves from case to case, indescribably monotonous and
unrenewed: it is shyness before any sort of new, unforeseeable
experience with which one does not think oneself able to cope.

But only someone who is ready for everything, who excludes
nothing, not even the most enigmatical, will live the relation
to another as something alive and will himself draw exhaustively
from his own existence. For if we think of this existence of
the individual as a larger or smaller room, it appears evident
that most people learn to know only a corner of their room, a
place by the window, a strip of floor on which they walk up and
down. Thus they have a certain security. And yet that dangerous
insecurity is so much more human which drives the prisoners in
Poe’s stories to feel out the shapes of their horrible dungeons
and not be strangers to the unspeakable terror of their abode.

We, however, are not prisoners. No traps or snares are set about
us, and there is nothing which should intimidate or worry us.
We are set down in life as in the element to which we best
correspond, and over and above this we have through thousands of
years of accommodation become so like this life, that when we
hold still we are, through a happy mimicry, scarcely to be
distinguished from all that surrounds us. We have no reason to
mistrust our world, for it is not against us. Has it terrors,
they are our terrors; has it abysses, those abysses belong to us;
are dangers at hand, we must try to love them. And if only we
arrange our life according to that principle which counsels us
that we must always hold to the difficult, then that which now
still seems to us the most alien will become what we most trust
and find most faithful. How should we be able to forget those
ancient myths about dragons that at the last moment turn into
princesses; perhaps all the dragons of our lives are princesses
who are only waiting to see us once beautiful and brave. Perhaps
everything terrible is in its deepest being something helpless
that wants help from us.

Rainer Maria Rilke
This entry was posted in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

24 Responses to Dragons and Princesses

  1. Reblogged this on The RunningFather Blog and commented:
    SymbolReader has a clear mind and beautiful prose, but her message stands tallest, drawing from the sorts of wisdom they don’t teach in self-help books or from the pulpit. What does a life lived open to all experience result in? Read within…


  2. Reblogged. Need I mention I loved it?


  3. Tantric, like dakinis saying to us, “Engage, engage life.”


  4. Yes, the fear for fear is whats limits us most. I always have a association with the great booktitle of Peter Handke’s’ Die Angst des Thormanns beim elfmeter’. ( The fear of the soccer-keeper of the ball on the eleven meter). You had a nice one with this special mivie from which you took the photo I think, right at the moment the maincharcter decided to step out his god-created supersafe globe. But I cant remember the title. Somenthing with Gump I thuoght, but it is not. Please give a hint SR :).


  5. Oh yes, with Jim Carrey. Good story, somewhere in my mind intertwined with Forrest Gump and Tom Hanks.
    Have a nice sunday. Beautiful spring-weather in Holland today!


  6. ChemE says:

    Reblogged this on Dark Matters a Lot and commented:


  7. Thank you. A message I needed to hear at this time when dragons abound


  8. fallenAngel says:

    What a beautiful English you write…
    Mein liebe Frau SymbolReader,
    Ich glaube, daß fast alle unsere Traurigkeiten Momente der Spannung sind, die wir als Lähmung empfinden, weil wir unsere befremdeten Gefühle nicht mehr leben hören. Weil wir mit dem Fremden, das bei uns eingetreten ist, allein sind, weil uns alles Vertraute und Gewohnte für einen Augenblick fortgenommen ist; weil wir mitten in einem Übergang stehen, wo wir nicht stehen bleiben können. Darum geht die Traurigkeit auch vorüber: das Neue in uns, das Hinzugekommene, ist in unser Herz eingetreten, ist in seine innerste Kammer gegangen und ist auch dort nicht mehr, – ist schon im Blut. Und wir erfahren nicht, was es war. Man könnte uns leicht glauben machen, es sei nichts geschehen, und doch haben wir uns verwandelt, wie ein Haus sich verwandelt, in welches ein Gast eingetreten ist. Wir können nicht sagen, wer gekommen ist, wir werden es vielleicht nie wissen, aber es sprechen viele Anzeichen dafür, daß die Zukunft in solcher Weise in uns eintritt, um sich in uns zu verwandeln, lange bevor sie geschieht. Und darum ist es so wichtig, einsam und aufmerksam zu sein, wenn man traurig ist: weil der scheinbar ereignislose und starre Augenblick, da unsere Zukunft uns betritt, dem Leben so viel näher steht als jener andere laute und zufällige Zeitpunkt, da sie uns, wie von außen her, geschieht. Je stiller, geduldiger und offener wir als Traurige sind, um so tiefer und um so unbeirrter geht das Neue in uns ein, um so besser erwerben wir es, um so mehr wird es unser Schicksal sein, und wir werden uns ihm, wenn es eines späteren Tages «geschieht» (das heißt: aus uns heraus zu den anderen tritt), im Innersten verwandt und nahe fühlen. Und das ist nötig. Es ist nötig und dahin wird nach und nach unsere Entwicklung gehen -, daß uns nichts Fremdes widerfahre, sondern nur das, was uns seit lange gehört. Man hat schon so viele Bewegungs-Begriffe umdenken müssen, man wird auch allmählich erkennen lernen, daß das, was wir Schicksal nennen, aus den Menschen heraustritt, nicht von außen her in sie hinein. Nur weil so viele ihre Schicksale, solange sie in ihnen lebten, nicht aufsaugten und in sich selbst verwandelten, erkannten sie nicht, was aus ihnen trat; es war .
    Und wenn ich Ihnen noch eines sagen soll, so ist es dies: Glauben Sie nicht, daß der, welcher Sie zu trösten versucht, mühelos unter den einfachen und stillen Worten lebt, die Ihnen manchmal wohltun. Sein Leben hat viel Mühsal und Traurigkeit und bleibt weit hinter Ihnen zurück. Wäre es aber anders, so hätte er jene Worte nie finden können.


    in the words of Rainer Maria Rilke


    • I recognize a passage from Rilke’s Letters to a Young Poet. I have never read them in German, but I regret it now since it sounds so touching and beautiful.
      Anyway, I will include the English translation for anyone looking at these comments because I think it is really worth it.
      I am in your debt, FallenAngel.

      “It seems to me that almost all our sadnesses are moments of tension, which we feel as paralysis because we no longer hear our astonished emotions living.
      Because we are alone with the unfamiliar presence that has entered us; because everything we trust and are used to is for a moment taken away from us; because we stand in the midst of a transition where we cannot remain standing. That is why the sadness passes: the new presence inside us, the presence that has been added, has entered our heart, has gone into its innermost chamber and is no
      longer even there, — is already in our bloodstream. And we don’t know what it was. We could easily be made to believe that nothing happened, and yet we have changed, as a house that a guest has entered changes. We can’t say who has come, perhaps we will never know, but many signs indicate that the future enters us in
      this way in order to be transformed in us, long before it happens. And that is why it is so important to be solitary and attentive when one is sad: because the seemingly uneventful and motionless moment when our future steps into us is so much closer to life than that other loud and accidental point of time when it happens to us as if from outside. The quieter we are, the more patient and open
      we are in our sadnesses, the more deeply and serenely the new presence can enter us, and the more we can make it our own, the more it becomes our fate; and later on, when it “happens” (that is, steps forth out of us to other people), we will feel related and close to it in our innermost being. And that is necessary. It is necessary
      — and toward this point our development will move, little by little — that nothing alien happen to us, but only what has long been our own. People have already had to rethink so many concepts of motion; and they will also gradually come to realize that what we call fate does not come into us from the outside, but emerges from us. It is only because so many people have not absorbed and transformed their fates while they were living in them that they have not realized
      what was emerging from them; it was so alien to them that they have not realized what was emerging from them; it was so alien to them that, in their confusion and fear, they thought it must have entered them at the very moment they became aware of it, for they swore they had never before found anything like that inside them.

      And if there is one more thing that I must say to you, it is this: Don’t think that the person who is trying to comfort you now lives untroubled among the simple and quiet words that sometimes give you much pleasure. His life has much trouble and sadness, and remains far behind yours. If it were otherwise, he would never have been able to find those words.”


      • fallenAngel says:

        Yes, a young poet you are. As an arrogant German, I bow my head. If Rainer Maria Rilke can be translated to English, anything valuable German can. Don’t think that the person who is trying to comfort myself now lives untroubled among the plain and still words that sometimes give us much pleasure. His life has much trouble and sadness, and remains far behind yours. If it were otherwise, he would never have been able to find those words…


      • Oh, I am not so good. I found a translation by Stephen Mitchell.
        But I feel that Rilke is in my blood stream…


  9. fallenAngel says:

    Well, we live indeed in the realm of google and curious minds. Psychology and consultancy and poets are like. We associate we are,we touch we understand, we feel we know..


  10. I have the last of this hanging on my refrigerator, so that one day my children will look back on it and reflect on their experiences as well.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s