Monday, August 07, 2006

Living the questions

I was a young graduate student of physics when I first read Rainer Maria Rilke's Letters To a Young Poet. It is a little book that every young poet (or physicist) might usefully read. It counsels patience at a time when the impatience of youth is in full spate.
Be patient towards all that is unsolved in your heart; try to love the questions themselves. Do not seek answers which cannot be given to you now because you would not be able to live them now. And the point is to live everything, to live the question now. Perhaps you will then, gradually, without noticing it, live along some distant day into the answer.
I read the letters again recently when I stumbled into a translation on the web, on the eve of my seventieth birthday. Have I found answers? Gradually, without noticing it? Perhaps. But it is still the questions that I love, the seeking, the pilgrimage towards the ineffable object of desire that always recedes.

An infinite universe will always have the capacity to surprise.