With Real Love, There Are No Recipes

Whenever people in love act out of an imagined fusion of their beings, their every action is dictated by convention. Every relation colored by such confusion is conventional, however exotic (that is, immoral) it might appear. Even separating would be a conventional step, an automatic alternative lacking in skill and creativity.

Whoever takes it seriously, discovers that, as with death which is real, so with real love, there are no easy recipes. For both these undertakings, there are no universally agreed-upon rules. But in the same measure that we begin as individuals to explore life’s meaning for us, these great things come toward us to be met and known. The claims made upon us by the hard work of love are bigger than life and essential to our unfolding, and we are seldom up to them at the outset. But if we hold steady and take this love upon us as a task and a teaching, instead of losing ourselves in an easy and frivolous game behind which to hide the most honest questions of our existence — this may be felt as a small illumination and step forward by those who come long after us. That in itself would be a lot.

— Rilke, Rome, May 14, 1904
Letters to a Young Poet

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