In my last written meditation, I shared my experience of being in a room with a group of people who continue to fight unjust systems and empower those within them to claim their voices. I acknowledged that now, as always, there are reasons to despair—and that those reasons do not create the sum total of our reality. We have choices about where we focus our attention. We have options when it comes to how we react to what we see.
Earlier this week, in that same spirit of “both/and,” someone sent me this poem by Mary Oliver. Mary Oliver’s work gets passed around a lot, and with good reason: she understands both the particularity and the universality of human experience. She leaves the reader with the sense that we don’t have to deny the complexities before us in order to engage the world with full hearts and generous spirits.
You may or may not be concerned just now. Maybe you are not someone who is plagued by anxiety or self-recrimination, but if you understand something of what worry feels like (or know someone who does!), I hope you will experience this poem as a gift.
I worried a lot. Will the garden grow, will the rivers
flow in the right direction, will the earth turn
as it was taught, and if not how shall
I correct it?
Was I right, was I wrong, will I be forgiven,
can I do better?
Will I ever be able to sing, even the sparrows
can do it and I am, well,
Is my eyesight fading or am I just imagining it,
am I going to get rheumatism,
Finally, I saw that worrying had come to nothing
And gave it up. And took my old body
and went out into the morning,