July 12, 2013

the centre cannot hold

     My advisor who has steered me through school in the midst of my brother and father, has strongly urged me to take a leave of absence to keep myself together through the next disaster.  Perhaps "strongly" isn't sufficient.  Adamant, compelling, resolutely.  But also sagaciously, compassionately, wisely.  After adding up all the things facing me, both personally and from school, it suddenly became clear to me that she was right.  To borrow a line from Yeats, my center cannot hold.  So I'm taking a leave of absence from school.  I view it as a necessary evil, rather than a path I wish to choose.  In fact, it pains me greatly to follow this course.  But the other options left me on a path towards burning out, or worse.  As my own words are not flowing adequately to encompass my emotional and psychic totality, I look to literary giants who are far better able at bringing to life such feelings with their gift of words.  If you've never read Rilke before, I highly recommend him.
It seems to me that almost all our sadnesses are moments of tension, which we feel as paralysis because we no longer hear our astonished emotions living. Because we are alone with the unfamiliar presence that has entered us; because everything we trust and are used to is for a moment taken away from us; because we stand in the midst of a transition where we cannot remain standing.
That is why the sadness passes: the new presence inside us, the presence that has been added, has entered our heart, has gone into its innermost chamber and is no longer even there, – is already in our bloodstream. And we don’t know what it was. We could easily be made to believe that nothing happened, and yet we have changed, as a house that a guest has entered changes.We can’t say who has come, perhaps we will never know, but many signs indicate that the future enters us in this way in order to be transformed in us, long before it happens.
And that is why it is so important to be solitary and attentive when one is sad: because the seemingly uneventful and motionless moment when our future steps into us is so much closer to life than that other loud and accidental point of time when it happens to us as if from outside. The quieter we are, the more patient and open we are in our sadnesses, the more deeply and serenely the new presence can enter us, and the more we can make it our own, the more it becomes our fate.
-Rainer Maria Rilke


ZARZAND said...

Okay, so we're total strangers. Your world and mine because of what we each do for a living keep us encircled by a world of total strangers who we do everything we can to affect in a healing way. --- So I won't opt to be shy in offering this, and I won't expect you to automatically allow it --- BUT what can we do for you right now? For you and your family? I follow your blog and I point others to it because it's good. Thought provoking. Human. --- You've endeared yourself to a lot of us I suspect, and I mean that in a genuine and stand up way. So that being said, is there anything we can do to help support you all right now? --- Steffany Baker President and Co-Founder ZARZAND Inc.

Steve Parker, M.D. said...

Isaac, I don't know what to say, other than that I'll pray for you and your family. Don't worry about the LOA; in the long run it won't matter. Med school will be there when you're ready.


Carol Elliott said...

Dear Isaac,
We are friends of you and your parents from Schapville. Your Mom babysat Erica and David, and we adored the 3 VanSligtenhorst boys. So sorry to hear of this latest difficult path on this earthly journey. God certainly works in mysterious ways, and Schapville Presbyterian Church will add our prayers for you and your family.