Today | Mary Oliver
Here’s a seemingly simple poem from Mary Oliver. Words are easy; actions are difficult. Which is why I’m sharing it with you today. Not because I think you need to hear this poem, but because I need to hear and live in it more than once in a blue moon. My comments follow.
Today I’m flying low and I’m
not saying a word.
I’m letting all the voodoos of ambition sleep.
The world goes on as it must,
the bees in the garden rumbling a little,
the fish leaping, the gnats getting eaten.
And so forth.
But I’m taking the day off.
Quiet as a feather.
I hardly move though really I’m traveling
a terrific distance.
Stillness. One of the doors
into the temple.
From A Thousand Mornings, Poems by Mary Oliver, p. 23
Published by Penguin Books 2013
© 2012 by NW Orchard LLC
I wonder. Do I have voodoos of ambition these days? More likely, I’m stalked by voodoos of things I must do whether they seem ‘ambitious’ or not. Think of long lists of things to do. Today, not tomorrow!
So what are you inviting me to give up just for today?
To be honest, I wouldn’t mind being a bee in the garden—provided there’s plenty of sweet stuff to go around. Then there are those fish jumping up out of the water, daring me to come and play with them. Though I’m not sure who wants to compete for gnats anyway.
Okay. I think I get it. It seems you want me to stop ticking off my long list of things I must do so that I can be a productive member of the human race. Though I’m not at all sure what the human race is about.
So yes, I’m going nowhere today. You won’t even know I’m here. Besides, given your lovely poem, I’m not at all sure I’ll ever understand the ‘terrific distance’ this stillness will give me.
I just know that today it’s time to rest, relax, and enjoy letting my ‘voodoos of ambition sleep.’
© Elouise Renich Fraser, 24 May 2023
Photo taken by DAFraser in June 2019, Longwood Gardens Meadow