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If Every Angel’s Terrible…
“For beauty is nothing but the beginning of terror
which we are barely able to endure, and it amazes us so,
because it serenely disdains to destroy us.
Every angel is terrible.”
~ Rainer Maria Rilke
Upon a recent and unpleasant re-acquaintace with my Evil Twin, I was inspired to dig out some good old dark Rilke, empty a bottle of literary wine, so I’d be granted the keys to the whole kingdom once again (which I apparently lost at some point between yesterday and forever). The undivided and imperfect kingdom of Me.
Or just steal them, while Mrs. Darker Side, the Yang, is asleep. But lovely Yin has no idea how to do such awful things.
If it hurts to be reminded that your darker side not only exists, but she’s a vital (and often hungry) part of you, and that she must be fed, like you’d feed a pet snake—lest you should be its next meal—then you better let her loose more often.
If pinching yourself is the only way to make your blood circulate, then by all means, pinch. But don’t complain about the horror movies that follow. Echoing and echoed by others, Rilke suggests to let it be.
“Let everything happen to you
Beauty and terror
Just keep going
No feeling is final.”
Because, in the end there is no end, no beginning, just an unstoppable evolving within the confines of our own mysteries. We think we’re exploring the world, we think we’re figuring things out, when, really, we are the ones being found out, the ones being explored, by our own curious imagination. Subjects and objects. At once.
“I am circling around God, around the ancient tower, and I have been circling for a thousand years, and I still don’t know if I am a falcon, or a storm, or a great song.”
Our evolution is, first and foremost, inward. And insides are usually dark. So maybe success should be equivalent to how well-acquainted you’ve become with yourself over the course of a lifetime, measured at any given moment.
Success = How well you can see in the dark.
So here is another sip of darkness, before I turn the light back on. Because there wouldn’t even be a need for that switch without the inevitable night.
“You darkness, that I come from,
I love you more than all the fires
that fence in the world,
for the fire makes
a circle of light for everyone,
and then no one outside learns of you.
But the darkness pulls in everything:
shapes and fires, animals and myself,
how easily it gathers them! -
powers and people -
and it is possible a great energy
is moving near me.
I have faith in nights.”
And this reminds me, like it was yesterday, of our past castle life. Of the unspeakable, ancient tower of sadness. And of a few, lonely dragons we misunderstood.
“How should we be able to forget those ancient myths that are at the beginning of all peoples, the 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.
So you must not be frightened if a sadness rises up before you larger than any you have ever seen; if a restiveness, like light and cloudshadows, passes over your hands and over all you do. You must think that something is happening with you, that life has not forgotten you, that it holds you in its hand; it will not let you fall. Why do you want to shut out of your life any uneasiness, any miseries, or any depressions? For after all, you do not know what work these conditions are doing inside you.”
If every angel’s terrible, I’m gonna’ welcome them. And if you stay to watch me sleep, expect the night. And if the darkness dreams of angels, we might as well stay up.
No one survives.
(But some people live.)
*Quoted: Rainer Maria Rilke.