INFJs, mountains and Rilke

INFJs*, mountains and Rilke.

Believe me, it is a deadly combination. When two INFJs decide to go to the mountains to recoup, they mean business. They carry more books than warm clothes. They have writing books, reading books and second-hand books, letter pads, post cards they gather along their travelling paths. It is dangerous to travel with them. They spend hours reading and staring into space. They visit museums with a purpose – to read the explanations. Not like many others who just see and move on.  My INFJ travelling partner is a joy to be around. She allows me to fall deep into my thought process and patiently begins to communicate for me. The beauty is when the need arises, I would do the same.

Our itinerary loving asses were treated to a surprise when the mountains were suddenly elusive because of snow/hail/rain. To be fair, our books would not have kept us warm and we would have frozen to death. So, we spent several days bummed out in coffee shops sipping coffee and wine and eating cake like we would die if we didn’t. It was difficult.

Here is where we rediscovered Rainer Maria Rilke. Rilke is a poet himself and his words were soothing to our distressed souls. We struggled to calm down, relax and let ‘life be right in all cases’. It was hard but I doubt I would have been able to live through that trip without my trusty INFJ and our survival kit comprising Rilke^. I would read him out loud and then sigh over the deep philosophy. We learnt a lot through him, I would think.

We had both read Rilke before. The circumstances – being stranded at the foot of the magnificent mountains – helped us explore the depths of his words.

“It is always what I have already said: always the wish that you may find patience enough in yourself to endure, and simplicity enough to believe; that you may acquire more and more confidence in that which is difficult, and in your solitude among others. And for the rest, let life happen to you. Believe me: life is right, in any case.” ― Rainer Maria Rilke

It was a difficult trip with lots of rain, hail and rocky bus rides. But I remember two moments vividly. One where we were soaking wet, sitting in front of a fire and reading. The other where we were in an airport lounge for insane hours with cups of coffee and reading. Both times aloud and both times lost in the words. (The second book I suspect is another INFJ favourite [perhaps not just INFJs] The Little Prince.)

In my current moments of anxiety, depression and stress, I picture the elusive mountain ranges and repeat to myself: Life is right, in any case. Contrary to the original situation, it calms me miraculously.

*INFJ – MBTI personality type

^ After returning, we discovered in an article online that hard bound Rilke is an ideal present for INFJs. They couldn’t have been more right with regards to these two INFJs.

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Travelling alone can be very liberating but it isn’t all flowery. Being able to sit for hours together staring at the sea or finishing a book while drinking cups of coffee or writing to empty the numerous strands of thoughts in my head was the motive of running away by myself. The ability to do all that I wanted without worrying about anyone else’s liking was the additional benefit. The choice of food, the time of the meals, where I went, what I did was solely upto me; it was a nice feeling to have. But, I would be fooling myself if I didn’t say I feel an underlying fear.

A fear which was ingrained in me is not easy to let go.

Eventually though the waves, the calmness of being away from all routine, the magic of Kundera’s words overcame that uneasy feeling. But the mode of hyper vigilance, as my friend calls it, is indeed exhausting. It takes focussed effort to remind oneself that it isn’t always going to be bad. And in order to enjoy the solitude fully well, I had to consciously recognise and unlearn that fear.

Travelling alone has allowed me to see the limitations in my thinking and my way of reacting. It showed me the power of the conditioning I’ve had; the tendency to be watchful and even a little afraid. This came mostly from bad experiences but still it was not good baggage to carry around. But this trip allowed me to make a dent on the conditioning with a happy little memory. Of a wonderful trip with my reading and writing books and myself.