One evening, I chanced to pick up my copy of Letters to a Young Poet by Rainer Maria Rilke. Slipping into the slim volume, I was touched once again by the tenderness, the generosity of spirit, that shines through these beautiful letters. They were written to a young man struggling to find his way who had visions of becoming a poet and wrote to Rilke asking his advice. Eventually, the young man’s life took a different path, but thankfully, he preserved the letters Rilke sent him so that we can enjoy them. I can only imagine his intense pleasure in receiving each of the heavy envelopes filled with elegant handwritten pages and words of wisdom. What a gift from an accomplished artist to a fledgling writer!
Some deep and glorious thought arises from each letter. Here’s just a glimpse: “But your solitude will be a hold and a home for you even amid very unfamiliar conditions and from there you will find all your ways. All my wishes are ready to accompany you, and my confidence is with you.”
“My confidence is with you” – how much these words must have meant to this young man at a difficult time in his life! Reading them reminds me how important it is that we are both gentle with ourselves and generous with each other. Whether writing is a livelihood or a pastime for us, we all have ideas and advice to share – and losses to bear. The literary world can be a competitive place: people are jockeying for attention and adulation. Yes, we have to take part in that world if we want to succeed, but we can make a different choice about we play the game: we can choose to encourage and support each other.
Just recently, I received a signed copy of a new book co-written by my good friend Coach Mike Tully called 10 Things Great Coaches Know. It’s a guide filled with valuable mentoring tips; I hope to share some of them with you. Inside, he wrote a note that I’ll treasure always: “You have the gift of inspiration.” On days when I wonder if anyone is reading these posts, I’ll take comfort in my friend’s confidence in me. Let’s be beacons to each other.