What it Means to be So Perfectly Enough
It’s a simple thought – hardly original – from David Mitchell’s most recent book. His ability is rather wonderful: weaving together characters and stories that span years and years. Perhaps there is the occasional forced moment, but perhaps that’s just me nitpicking.
One of the best things Rilke ever wrote was about the idea of living a question long enough to discover its answer. All our prefigured ideas of life that seem so certain – each future moment we try to order and control – those are more often than not our loud screams in the face of some uncertainty. We want to have things somewhere abstractly down the road – a job, a family, a companion, a lack of burdens, the ability to travel, to sleep peacefully, to talk importantly about something, to interestingly reflect on hardships, to pass lessons across – and so we comfort ourselves with the notion of fulfillment: in time, we think, we’ll live our way into these things.
I’m not sure what to say here. Is it really worth picking at such a natural human tendency? Is there a better alternative? Should we have such faith in the passage of time? Is it really our ally? I don’t know. What I do know, and what I do delight in, are the profoundly simple realizations I find myself pausing alongside and believing in right now. It’s a too-often-said thing – as an example, the idea of “being yourself” – that means nothing, until one day it sort of does. It really does.
Cheryl Strayed finishes Wild with this line:
How wild it was, to let it be.
Mark Strand, the lovely late poet, wrote about the beauty of seeing something “for being only as it seems.”
And here we have David Mitchell, taking a moment in the rather heartless existence of one of his characters, to drop a few simple words about the same thing: taking something as it is, and quite wildly, loving it for being enough.