The Unsaid


If I don’t manage to fly, someone else will.
The spirit wants only that there be flying.
As for who happens to do it,
In that he has only a passing interest.
~ Rainer Maria Rilke

The greatest source of misery in our relationships with others is the Unsaid, that which is there to say and which we have withheld. “They won’t be able to handle the truth”, we tell ourselves, creating others as small, fragile and uncommitted to the truth. Or, “They already know”, we say. Take it as read: they don’t.

Consider that we have freedom, power and self-expression in our relationships to the extent we have emptied out the Unsaid. While ever there is some Unsaid, our freedom, power and self-expression is diminished and thus, the joy and satisfaction of our relationships.

Emptying out the Unsaid doesn’t mean articulating every tiny thought that crosses our mind. The Unsaid is a very distinct realm and has a distinct quality, one of withholding, justified withholding.

The thing about the Unsaid is that it persists until it is moved to the Said. It can, and frequently does, persist beyond death. Like Rilke’s spirit wanting flying, it doesn’t care who happens to do it or when or how it happens, all it cares is that it’s moved to the Said and that there be freedom.


Image: Rilke and his last lover, Baladine Klossowska, Switzerland, 1923


13 thoughts on “The Unsaid

  1. Well you sure know how to get one’s attention. How in the world do you find the time and thought process to dig up these priceless treasures. I mean not too many people, comparatively speaking, know of or are sufficiently familiar with Rilke’s poetry in this day and age. I mean he goes back well prior to the 1st world war, like 1875 or so. What a treat to receive a mail reminder of this genius to start the week. Pardon my heathen week, in that it refuses to start on Sundays as in man made rules. You are a very special lady with an enviable mind who is always full of surprises. Thank you Father Time, or is it Mother Hazard, we must thank for putting you here in our present day life period?

    Have a great week.

    Jean-Jacques Fournier


    • What a beautiful acknowledgment, JJ. Thank you. I get a lot of intellectual nourishment and stimulation from my training and development with Landmark Education. We often mention the great writers, thinkers and poets there, particularly the linguistic explorers like Shakespeare, Rilke, Wittgenstein, Wallace Stevens.

      According to Wikipedia, Rilke is in the top three most widely-read poets in US, along with Rumi and Gibran. Telling that they’re all mystical/spiritual, isn’t it? There’s such a hunger for this kind of nourishment in the “post-religious” segments of society.


      • Yes, though I’m familiar with Rilke’s notoriety along with Gibran and Rumi, in the US going back many years for me, you don’t hear those names to often now-a-days, and it’s a real treat to be reminded. Enough so as to start digging for some of Rilke’s work as well as Rumi that I haven’t read for a very long time. I love that period, and their sometimes bold way of expressing, as you would imagine, knowing me to that extent.

        Thanks again Narelle, great stuff. By the way, the picture of the open book laying on the canapè in the header picture of my blog is Gibran’s poems. JJ xxx


  2. I will echo Jean-Jacques. You come up with some amazingly insightful thoughts. The unsaid is always there before us. The frequent problem is that sometimes we never realize what we should have said until it’s too late. Then there are those who say too much too often.


    • Kim, if I had my way there’d be classes on moving the Unsaid to the Said when people begin school, when two people get married, when a woman gives birth, when people have ageing parents, when a relationship no longer gives joy and satisfaction, when families are estranged, when people get addicted to a substance, when a teenager or other person is at risk.And there’d be monthly refresher classes. xxx


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