“If my devils are to leave me, I am afraid my angels will take flight as well.”
With those words, the great poet Rainer Maria Rilke rejected psychoanalysis.
The words of his refusal certainly have a long echo. I hear that quote repeated all the time, these days.
But I don’t agree with the quote, except in this sense: I believe our angels and devils are connected…
As my dreams have taught me: every negative aspect or energy has its positive side. And every positive aspect has its negative.
Our angels and devils aren’t just connected, they’re twins.
So, in the process of change, I never actually ever lose my devils. I just flip each coin, each aspect, to its opposite side—to the positive, to the angel…
…and then try to keep it from flipping back again.
It’s a painful process, but the result is: I create less pain in my life for myself, and for those around me.
Perhaps Rilke believed that, without his pain, without his suffering, he wouldn’t be driven to such heights of creativity…
To those who fear the same, I say: don’t worry, no matter how much you change, I think you’ll always be able to find enough pain, enough conflict…
…if not within you, then out there, in the world: enough suffering, enough injustice, enough cruelty.
As for myself, I know I will always have devils, of one type or another…
But in dealing with them, I will create ever more angels for myself…ever more peace for myself…
…and in that way, at least, create a little more peace in the world.
With all this in mind, I hope we won’t include that line from Rilke in our new mythology…
Instead, with much modesty, I’d like to offer the poem below. If its lines seem a little too meager, perhaps we can at least adopt the feeling and thought:
THEIR GRIEF IS MINE
My gods have promised
to stop being
if I can become
I swear I’m trying
to speed the change–
I can no longer bear
© 2013, Michael R. Patton