Her poems really get into me. I know not to be lulled by her beautiful images of the natural world. Her lines also carry the potency of what it means to be alive, the risks we take in falling in love with this world and the perils of not paying attention. She puts words to the co-existence of power and fragility in all things.
It seems that life is found in that precise tension, and she urges us to wake up to it.
We spend a fair amount of time (I don’t think it is just me) doing all we can to make ourselves comfortable, to save ourselves from pain and distress. We distract ourselves with comforts - screens, food, footie pajamas; we encourage “only happy thoughts”; we have conversations with those who agree with us.
And at what cost?
Imagine we are all walking around with our heads wrapped in wool - like giant sized Qtips - it softens the blow when we bump up against hard things. It also limits our ability to engage in the world, to witness its beauty and experience its magic. It prevents us from speaking up: saying NO to the unconscionable, saying YES to our hearts’ biggest desires.
I don’t actually feel like I am walking around with my head wrapped in wool. I do notice myself going on autopilot more often than I would like. Making my way through my day, moving from one “to-do” to the next, with or without a list, noticing discomfort and moving away from it or not noticing it at all - until it shows up as a splitting headache or a pain in my foot.
And that’s where Mary Oliver’s poetry comes in for me, and poetry in general. It wakes me up with its precision - lighting fire to my awareness. I am suddenly aware of a spot in my brain that I didn’t know was itchy. Curiosity is my scratching stick. I notice the emotions that I had been clutching in my hands, and I let them unfurl and flow through.
The heat of the fire gives rise to what has been below the surface; it burns through that which is no longer needed, and it sheds light upon what is here for me now.
There is so much to notice when we are awake.
What lights the fire of your awareness? What is wanting to awaken in you?
Jessica Curtis is a professional coach who helps people cultivate intention and live from a place of meaning and authenticity. If you think you could benefit from working with Jessica or want to invite her to work with your group, reach out to start a conversation.