Finding Patience for Life’s Unanswered QuestionsPosted: October 11, 2013
Have patience with everything that remains unsolved in your heart. Try to love the questions themselves, like locked rooms and like books written in a foreign language. Do not now look for the answers. They cannot now be given to you because you could not live them. It is a question of experiencing everything. At present you need to live the question. Perhaps you will gradually, without even noticing it, find yourself experiencing the answer, some distant day.
Letters to a Young Poet, Rainer Maria Rilke
My client Linda has a small local baking business. One day she called me so thrilled that a big supermarket chain expressed interest in some of her baked goods. Although she felt very excited, she also felt very overwhelmed. She has been baking in her home and selling locally for several years. Now she would need a commercial kitchen. We discussed some strategies and decided upon calling restaurants, churches, and temples to see if anybody would rent to her for 15 hours a week. She called many places but couldn’t find a place that would rent her their kitchen on a part-time basis. We spoke after she had made all of these calls and the excitement was gone from her voice. She told me she was thinking that this new venture was not such a good idea after all. She said that logistically it would never work so she probably should just focus on her few clients and raising her family.
We can all understand how easily the unanswered questions in Linda’s life left her feeling uneasy and discouraged. Some of us feel discouraged because we can’t find a new job or because nobody has recognized our work as an artist or writer, or we can’t find financing for a great business idea. These are meaningful goals in our lives and we tend to think the answer or opportunity should be right in front of our eyes in this moment. But in reality when we have questions and no answers often all that is needed is the time and space for resolution to occur.
So how can we let go of the timelines we create in our minds for when things should happen and in what circumstances opportunities should arise? I always encourage my clients to rely on the idea of Maybe. Maybe creates some space between ourselves and our fears about the unknown. It allows us to stay open and not jump into panic or a negative thought when a situation remains unresolved or we still haven’t achieved our goals. In such times, remember: Maybe everything can work out well, Maybe something else beneficial will happen or Maybe we will be okay no matter what. Keeping our minds in Maybe enables us to wait patiently in the present moment with hope. The unknown becomes less threatening when we think of it as filled with Maybe.
Recently Linda found her commercial space and she says she learned so much from having tried and been turned down from so many different venues. Her experience of looking for a long time helped her figure out exactly what she needed and gave her the knowledge to negotiate a good deal. By sticking with the idea of Maybe, Linda also learned that there are always new possibilities on the horizon even if she can’t see them in the moment.
Having an immediate answer is not always the best solution. Maybe experiencing the question will lead you to where you want to be. Just Maybe