To live the question

A young friend and I exchange letters.

Who are you today? we ask ourselves and each other. Our answers come in fits and starts. Long pauses. Weeks of delay and churning uncertainty.

I am grateful for the examination. Appreciating the lack of a fixed reply, I applaud her search. Answers do arrive, I tell her (and myself), in letters, books, in shifts of illumination when we are not looking. Last night, for example, I landed on this passage:

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 can not 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.

— Rainer Maria Rilke, Letters to a Young Poet