Trust in others is something that is hard won; it takes time. Trust in yourself probably takes just as much time. It requires a lifetime of patience and belief that you are doing the right thing, even though it may not be bearing much fruit, or seeming to come good. That’s when the old friend (or foe) called ‘time’ comes into play. Trust in time, says the wisdom, trust in the process, in the right thing unfolding, in the right path having been chosen. The changes will come, in time. How much time? I want to yell. And the silent answer is: as long as it takes.
My wise friend told me, when I was railing against something, desperate for answers that I couldn’t look up in a book, and getting angry with the amount of time things were taking to change – “you can’t push the river”. She also told me to, “trust that things will change, as you’re willing and with time.” Always (it is an unfortunate truism) things happen that we wish hadn’t – we can divest so much energy in wishing it hadn’t happened that we become frozen in time. Events or accidents, be they physical or emotional tumbles, can send us flailing out of control. Those literal or figurative bumps in the road and patches of black ice, can leave us cut open, swollen and bruised. And then we are to trust that it’s all ok, that these wounds are teaching us lessons, and that life is unfolding as it should? Bah! (insert swear word of your choice..)
Often I feel that change happens at the pace of a tortoise: plodding, slow, imperceptible. I was complaining to T. about this when she astutely pointed out that we are waiting for these big seismic changes to come, and all along it is an accumulation of small changes that are gathering and pulling us forward. “It’s like looking back at old photographs”, she told me, “back then you thought you looked terrible, and now you look back and realize you looked great!” We are masters of discounting the positive.
German Poet, Rainer Maria Rilke, was a prodigious letter writer, and some of his letters are as rich in wisdom as a Colombian mine is in emeralds. In a response to one correspondent he says: “I am touched by your beautiful anxiety about life”. Well, I can’t think of a more lovely way of telling someone that you have sympathy with their worries! In the same letter Rilke goes on to say: “Have patience with everything unresolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves as if they were locked rooms or books written in a very foreign language. Don’t search for the answers, which could not be given to you now, because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps then, someday far in the future, you will gradually, without even noticing it, live your way into the answer.”
It’s a big ask, not searching for answers, but each of us know the questions to ask and the questions to drop. The challenge is to do as Rilke says: live your way into the future, and trust your way into the future; don’t wish you way into the future, or fight your way into the future. Yes, a big ask.