Once I was in a coach/therapist’s office rambling on and on about something I’m sure I had rambled on and on about before. I just wasn’t finding a way to learn the lesson(s). Dr finally jumped in with Mary Oliver. She couldn’t take me for a second longer. I’m sure she had tried to meet me where I was. I know she is excellent at actively listening. Yet sometimes all you want for someone is for them to breath, to rest their spinning thoughts, and find some silence for the solution to come. Or more likely, to realize that none of what you are rambling about even matters.
Social Media is filled with Mary Oliver tributes this week due to her recent passing. I don’t know if any of these folks have a Mary Oliver collection on their bookshelf. I often wonder if these types of tributes are heartfelt or trendy. What I do know, is that I wrote Mary Oliver’s name down on my legal pad in that session and took myself to Barnes and Noble and bought one of her book of poems.
I wish I could say that my life was then instantly changed forever. It wasn’t. I understood intellectually what my coach was trying to instill in me. A safe place where words can slow you down. Pages of reminders of a bigger meaning. Connection to nature and animals and quiet the way that Mary Oliver’s words connect. I knew that my coach always steered me well but it took years of returning to Mary Oliver’s poems before I understood that I could lean on her. Really lean on her words. I have gone to Mary Oliver in times of distress. Times of needed rest. I go to her when I need inspiration in how to string the words together. She’s always there on my book shelf. And, in my heart.
Poetry is not a lost art… Poetry is metaphor for everything. Poetry is simple and to the point when it’s done Mary Oliver Style. If ever to stir desperation, excitement, and practicality towards hiring a coach, only look to one of Mary Oliver’s most famous poems…
The Summer Day
Who made the world?
Who made the swan, and the black bear?
Who made the grasshopper?
This grasshopper, I mean-
the one who has flung herself out of the grass,
the one who is eating sugar out of my hand,
who is moving her jaws back and forth instead of up and down-
who is gazing around with her enormous and complicated eyes.
Now she lifts her pale forearms and thoroughly washes her face.
Now she snaps her wings open, and floats away.
I don’t know exactly what a prayer is.
I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down
into the grass, how to kneel down in the grass,
how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields,
which is what I have been doing all day.
Tell me, what else should I have done?
Doesn’t everything die at last, and too soon?
Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?