Ask yourself in the stillest hour of your night

From Henri Nouwen’s Reaching Out.

Maybe the most important advice to all searching people is the advice that Rainer Maria Rilke gave to the young man who asked him if he should become a poet. Rilke says:

You ask whether your verses are good. You ask me. You have asked other before. You send them to magazines. You compare them with other poems, and you are disturbed when certain editors reject your efforts. Now…I beg you to give up all that. You are looking outward and that above all you should not do now. Nobody can counsel and help you, nobody. There is only one single way. Go into yourself. Search for the reason that bids you to write; find out whether it is spreading out its roots in the deepest places of your heart, acknowledge to yourself whether you would have to die if it were denied you to write. This above all—ask yourself in the stillest hour of your night: must I write? Delve into yourself for a deep answer. And if this should be affirmative, if you may meet this earnest question with a strong and simple ‘I must,’ then build your life according to this necessity; your life even into its most indifferent and slightest hour must be a sign of this urge and testimony to it.

This quote was shared with me by David Jacobsen, an incredible writer and author of Rookie Dad: Thoughts on First Time Fatherhood.

4 thoughts on “Ask yourself in the stillest hour of your night

  1. This is a hard quote, Ross. I usually start delving deep into myself for an answer and then I get distracted by my phone telling me the Lakers are in a close game and I should turn on the TV.

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