Trusting in What is Difficult

“Everything in Nature grows and defends itself any way it can and is spontaneously itself, tries to be itself at all costs and against all opposition. We know little, but that we must trust in what is difficult is a certainty that will never abandon us; it is good to be solitary, for solitude is difficult; that something is difficult must be one more reason for us to do it. It is also good to love — love being difficult. Love is perhaps the most difficult task given us, the most extreme, the final proof and text, for which all other work is only preparation.” –Rainer Maria Rilke

Rilke’s stance makes me squirm a little; I don’t like being uncomfortable. In fact I, like many of you, spend a lot of time trying to organize my life to maximize the comfort factor. Problem is some very worthy and necessary experiences are not only difficult, but discomforting as well. Rilke says we need to have faith in what is difficult. And although I’m not entirely clear on his meaning, he does seem to advocate embracing the challenges posed by what is difficult in our lives, particularly what is difficult in the natures of both love and solitude.

Perhaps he means to say that it is only by living and exploring our edges that we grow, and growth is often not a comfortable process, though it is generally a rewarding one. Much of the hard work being internal, facing what frightens and threatens to overwhelm us, summoning the courage, patience and persistence to turn towards the unexamined dark corners of our lives, is difficult to say the least.

Solitude is the vessel in which to safely explore all this, for processing both the difficult and delightful material of our lives, integrating it such that we may be altered—transformed in ways that make us both more original (more fully ourself), and more human (warm, compassionate, kind). Solitude, it seems then, takes us on a journey from the cold world of aloneness, having perhaps abandoned ourselves, to the warmth and solace of greater intimacy and solidarity with ourselves—qualities definitely worth any struggle or discomfort involved

End of day comfort is overrated. An audacious assertion, but true. For I personally know of nothing worthwhile that I have ever achieved or accomplished, that didn’t involve at least a little struggle (as well, might I add, a certain measure of both adventure and fun).

In any event, living and exploring our edges is where all the potential for growth exists. Rilke seems to encourage us to step into that unknown, yet-to-be-traversed territory as something we are each in our own way, called to do—being profoundly a part of the nature of things as we all are.