Reading

Posted on 29 June 2006

I thank the heavens that I feel myself today. It’s morning and I have just had my coffee sitting on a bench on the Esplanade. There is a slight breeze and though it promises to be another hot day, this morning is comfortable. I feel so lucky as I look over the rolling hills of the valley below, my head clear for the first time in three days.

I only slept three hours last night, tossing and turning, trying to sleep but not reaching it until after four a.m. (What could I expect after sleeping half of yesterday away.) Every half hour or so, I would turn on the light and read. I finished “The Blue Flower” by Penelope Fitzgerald, a tale of the life of the romantic poet Fritz von Hardenburg (later called Novalis) who fell in love with a twelve year old, Sophie von Kuhn, who he called his “heart’s heart” his “true Philosophy.” She was such a child, an innocent who laughed at the poet’s fancy words but liked him well enough and agreed to marry him on her sixteenth birthday. (She died two days after her fifteenth.) There is another woman, a confidant of Fritz, closer in age, more his intellectual equal, who loves him too (or so Fitzgerald insinuates) but he only has eyes for Sophie. And then Fritz’ brother, Erasmus, also falls in love with Sophie. Unfortunately Fitzgerald does not always supply dates but sometime after Sophie’s death, Fritz becomes engaged to another and though, in a letter to Friedrich Schlegel, he writes that an interesting life awaits him, he adds “Still, I would rather be dead.” Three years later he dies of tuberculosis.

After trying for sleep again, I picked up “The Secret Self 2: Short Stories by Women” – there is a bookshelf beside my bed with only good books, no trashy novels, so I am forced to read literature – and read two stories, one by Kate Chopin and another by Katherine Mansfield.

I am starting to panic that I will be awake all night so I again try for sleep without luck. I play on the internet. Finally I fall.

I appear to be living in a dream world but I like this world where anything is possible. (I must be feeling better.)

A few days ago, I finished “On the Way to the Wedding” and a passage, a quote by Rilke keeps returning to mind. (Kate says I quote too much but I love quotes, giving credit to others for my leaps in thought. Or it could be that it is my insecurity that pushes me to quote – shows you out there – that I am not a complete idiot. Whatever. Kate added that a blog is like a graduate course: everything is allowed. It’s a great experiment.

Anyway, the quote by Rilke that won’t leave me alone is this:

“We must assume our existence as broadly as we in any way can: everything unheard-of must be possible in it. That is at bottom the only courage that is demanded of us: to have courage for the most strange, the most singular and the most inexplicable that we may encounter…. But fear of the inexplicable has not alone impoverished the existence of the individual; the relation between one human being and another has also been cramped by it… 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.”

I love this quote. I love the permission it gives me to dream my dreams and to discount nothing. At this time of my life, when I seek direction, I think this important. On Friday, I move back into my house (and as much as I love Susan and David and their bookshelves,) I am looking forward to a month of solitude to think my crazy thoughts and hopefully come up with some sort of plan, an outline even, of what I want to do with myself.


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