November 27, 2015

Letters to a Young Poet

When I left Vietnam, many of my friends gave me leaving presents and one of the gifts I received was a book, Letters to a Young Poet by Rainer Maria Rilke. This is German book, translated into English, about a famous Austrian poet who wrote ten letters to a officer. What is truly amazing about this book is the letters have a far greater appeal. There is a beautiful quote which really resonated with me at the time;

“Be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves, like locked rooms and like books that are now written in a very foreign tongue. Do not now seek the answers, which cannot be given to you because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps you will then gradually, without noticing it, live along some distant day into the answer.”

I had a lot of questions when I left, perhaps more than I realised and my friend gave me this book which I read on the flight. I felt like this book was speaking to me, trying to calm me down and prepare me for my journey ahead. Never before had I stopped to try and love the questions. We are constantly told to plan, to set objectives and to measure our goals along with our success. But how often are we told to embrace questions, to sit and ponder the unknown. I love this book and upon leaving Vietnam, I gifted this book to a good friend, Dang who I felt could benefit from it.