Instructions for living a life:
Tell about it.
~Mary Oliver from Sometimes
The inspirational poet Mary Oliver died recently. She was one of my favorite poets because her work was so accessible. In this stanza from her poem Sometimes, Oliver succinctly reminds me of what’s important: focus on the present moment, feel awe and curiosity, and create connections.
The moment that matters is the one I’m in. The only way to be present is to be aware of what’s around me and how it makes me feel. My main tools of awareness are my senses: what do I see? smell? hear? taste? feel? I need to slow down enough to notice details.
Exploring something in great detail allows me to see how intricately it was created, the many ways in which it connects other things, the ways in which all of these are related and different. When I am surprised and delighted by something I discover, I feel happier and more connected to the world. Sharing these experiences with others encourages them to pay attention, be astonished and tell someone about it, to spread the happiness and connection.
Our shared observations and feelings, not the vicarious ones of celebrities we only know on a screen, allow us to be known by others and form the bonds that make our life meaningful. The stories we tell ourselves and each other about the world change how we live in the world. What stories are you telling? What makes you curious?
What are your life instructions?