On Meditating, Sort Of
by Mary Oliver
Meditation, so I’ve heard, is best accomplished
if you entertain a certain strict posture.
Frankly, I prefer just to lounge under a tree.
So why should I think I could ever be successful?
Some days I fall asleep, or land in that
even better place — half asleep — where the world, spring, summer, autumn, winter —
flies through my mind in its hardy ascent and its uncompromising descent.
So I just lie like that, while distance and time
reveal their true attitudes: they never
heard of me, and never will, or ever need to.
Of course I wake up finally
thinking, how wonderful to be who I am,
made out of earth and water,
my own thoughts, my own fingerprints —
all that glorious, temporary stuff.
Sometimes I think I’m supposed to be more than I am, to do more than I’m doing. It’s not usually clear what that something more is, just that I’m not being or doing it. But lately I’m being reminded (over and over again, because, apparently, it’s a lesson I REALLY need to learn) that such thinking is profoundly unhelpful, to me personally and to humanity as a whole. I read the Mary Oliver poem, “On Meditating, Sort Of”, and when I get to the last few lines it hits me once again – I am who I am and that is exactly, wonderfully, who I am supposed to be. “…all that glorious, temporary stuff.” In the grand scheme of things none of it lasts, which makes it all the more precious. In another of her poems (perhaps my favorite), Mary Oliver put it this way:
“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?”
(The Summer Day, by Mary Oliver)
I’m here, now, in this moment, in this place, being who I am, and doing what I do. And there is absolutely no one else I should be, and nothing more (or different) I should be doing. And that is worth celebrating!