Sunday, June 18, 2006

Our Translated World

“We're not comfortably at home in our translated world.” These words from Rilke's Duino Elegies have struck home. All of our interactions are negotiations/translations between the mind and the heart, between ourselves and others, between ourselves and nature, and between the layers within ourselves. These negotiations are fragile and tenuous at best. The end of June is fast-approaching. My circle here will once again need re-organization. Never have I felt as though I do indeed live in a “translated world” as right now.

There have been numerous kindnesses done unto me these past few days that have made me feel less forlorn. A friend was thoughtful enough to assemble a huge bag of freebies from the petroleum show for me, in case I didn't get the chance to attend. A stranger notarized a document for me free of charge even though I caught him when he was busy working with customers. Another wonderful friend taught me how to cook an incredible meal.

I've been busy these past couple of weeks with wrapping up with the Brownies, having our last hurrah. I've also been enjoying several barbeques and get-togethers with friends. I can't wait until the Boot Lake trail is accessible; when we checked yesterday evening, we discovered that part of the trail was flooded still. Whenever I walk that trail, I feel less “translated.” I feel more at home, more at peace.

Watched the movie Shopgirl last week in my new TV room, and it has been on my mind, particularly in keeping with Rilke's sentiments. Everyone has such a sad yearning and tenderness and such vulnerability; however, instead of seeing all those qualities as linkages, we stand infinitely apart still. I think that this is one movie that might leave many viewers completely dissatisfied. The protagonist doesn't necessarily end up with the “right” man, because perhaps the point is that everyone has the potential to be equally right/wrong. I see myself reflected in all three of the characters.

Sometimes, by watching or reading about others' separateness, and by acknowledging it, we ironically feel less alone. Other than Shopgirl and Rilke's poetry, here are several more texts (in all senses of the word) that have helped me recently:

- Amitav Ghosh's The Hungry Tide (inspired my rediscovery of Rilke)
- the poetry of the clouds (along with the music of the leaves)
- Shyam Selvadurai's Funny Boy (has provided more healing than any self-help book ever could)
- Chopin's Nocturnes (particularly when shared with someone who has the same musical yearnings)


  1. Do you have Duino Elegies? More importantly, do you want it? You're so hard to shop for, but I can probably find you a funky copy somewhere in Vancouver.

  2. I just adore Rilke's poetry and whenever I read it, I don't know how I get by without reading it every day. I do believe there is probably a heart-piercing phrase for every emotion you'll ever feel amongst the elegies.

  3. Visit litlove's blog -- I love it:

    Hope you don't mind my sharing it with my friends who visit this space!

  4. Megan, you stole my idea! Let's go book-shopping together and find that perfectly worn copy, with a tattered cover, and maybe someone's notes in the margins.