Why Mary Oliver Asked

All her life, Mary Oliver gave us “instructions for living,” being aware, delighted because of it, and “telling about it.” That was her poetry, line after line. Mary Oliver is gone but how grateful I am that she lived and told us about it.

I don’t know how many of her poems are in my posts. Quite a few and there could never be too many nor could one of her poems be read too many times. I told everyone I could about Mary Oliver and that included buying her books and giving them away.

For myself, I will keep Devotions, her selections of her work, “a bit of this and a bit of that.” You know, everything and even more. It’s my instruction for all the days I am yet to live my “wild and precious life.”

It’s difficult to feel the poetry in every day but it’s there, a single line beginning its way into a poem, like each day finding its way into a single volume of life.

Like the cricket moving a hillside grain by grain, “How great was his energy, how humble its effort.” Mostly inexplicable, our lives, and yet essential to the universe, life by life.

Mary Oliver is my blueprint. All my field guides of flora and fauna are footnotes to her poetry. I know more of life by wild roses “busy being roses,” the what and how of it. I have learned not to have favorites for life is one experience after another and comparison diminishes one for the other. Best I be “busy being” human and the lines will right themselves, as much as any wild rose does.

“Attention is the beginning of devotion” Mary Oliver said, awareness in astonishment, line after line, “aching to be worthy of beauty.” There is no feeling like it, not in the whole wide world of days, sunny or cloudy.

It’s the flight of the swan that “pertains to everything” this beauty but in our wonder, have we “changed our lives because of it.” If we had, Mary Oliver would not have asked.

Aim for Even posts offer equanimity a dose at a time. No day or dose is ever the same, even if the aim is. You may read about the origins of Aim for Even here or on this site’s About page.

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