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Waiting for Answers

Check out this quote: "...I would like to beg you dear Sir, as well as I can, to have patience with everything unresolved in your heart and to 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." Rainer Maria Rilke, 1903 in Letters to a Young Poet.

This quote is for all of you who are living and dying for answers about the questions in your life. You ask me, you ask your friends and family, you search for certainty in books and seminars. You beg, you plead, Please, please give me the answers so I’ll know what to do! To say that this is the wrong approach to living a satisfying life grossly understates the problem. The point of life is not to do it right, but to do it joyfully—“to live everything”—with food and every other aspect of life.

I love the message in “Live the questions now. Perhaps then, someday far in the future, you will gradually, without even noticing it, live your way into the answer.” This is what’s called following an organic process. It’s how change happens in real time, how therapy works. There are two key words in this quote—“gradually” and “far.” Unless you accept that all steps are baby steps and that achieving goals will take a long time, you will be constantly frustrated and angry. You will get there by doing what you have to do every minute of every day and by looking down at your baby steps not out into the future.

The other aspect of this enlightening quote is how much of life you miss by focusing on seeking answers. The more you look outside yourself for solutions to your problems—eating and otherwise—the farther away you move from finding them. When you stop seeking answers and “live the questions,” only then will you be on your way toward answering them. This paradox is at the core of living well. Forget doing right and being right and do what’s best for you in the moment. Trust that you can make appropriate decisions for yourself. Not every time of course, but that doesn’t matter if you know how to honestly assess yourself and correct your course. Life is not out there, but in here.

For one week do not focus on the future and or seek external answers. Whenever you have the need for certainty, calm yourself and look toward your inner wisdom. I promise that if you give yourself over to this practice, it will provide all the answers you need.