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Living the Questions

“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 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.”

-Rainer Maria Rilke

Due to growing up in another state, my family spends a lot of time on road trips to visit family and friends. My husband and I have been very intentional about what those road trips are like and have encouraged each family member to bring along their favorite snacks, podcasts and movies, comfy blankets, and anything else that will make eight hours in the car more enjoyable . The anticipated destination is still the purpose and focus of the trip, but the travel in between our destination and home is a reality of the trip, and we have chosen to be intentional about the way we participate in it.

I realized recently that this type of planning and perspective could apply to more than just road trips. I have always appreciated the Rilke idea of “living the questions,” and I believe that not having all of the answers at any one time is okay and a part of life. But being okay with something and enjoying the process are entirely different things. Sometimes in the distress of the unknown, I am impatient and bored and frustrated and wishing away the time until I reach answers and certainty.

What if, like road trips, I focused less on the “are we there yet?” mentality and more on accepting the less pleasant parts of the journey as a necessary part of the trip? What if I chose to show up fully present to whatever my journey entails and came prepared with whatever will make that time more comfortable? What if I truly “lived” everything?

Stacey Patterson, LCPC, MT-BC

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