Saturday Morning. Why I Wake Early.

Everyday
I see or hear
something
that more or less

kills me
with delight,
that leaves me
like a needle

in the haystack
of light.
It was what I was born for —
to look, to listen,

to lose myself
inside this soft world —
to instruct myself
over and over

in joy,
and acclamation.
Nor am I talking
about the exceptional,

the fearful, the dreadful,
the very extravagant —
but of the ordinary,
the common, the very drab,

the daily presentations.
Oh, good scholar,
I say to myself,
how can you help

but grow wise
with such teachings
as these —
the untrimmable light

of the world,
the ocean’s shine,
the prayers that are made
out of grass?

—  Mary Oliver, from “Mindful” in Why I Wake Early.


Notes:

  • Photo: DK @ 6:03 a.m. this morning. Cove Island Park, Stamford, CT. 47F. More photos from this morning here.
  • Mary Oliver via Alive on All Channels

Without spring who knows what would happen. A lot of nothing, I suppose.


Notes:

  • Grace (and George) building their nest. (Grace being named by my good friend LouAnn.)
  • My Swan(s) @ Cove Island Park, Stamford, CT. 6:57 a.m. yesterday morning. 42° F.  Other photos from yesterday morning here.  Backstories on swans here.
  • Post Title: Mary Oliver, from “Late Spring,” Felicity: Poems  (via Alive on All Channels)

do not walk by without pausing to attend to this rather ridiculous performance

Oh do you have time
to linger
for just a little while
out of your busy

and very important day
for the goldfinches
that have gathered
in a field of thistles

for a musical battle,
to see who can sing
the highest note,
or the lowest,

or the most expressive of mirth,
or the most tender?
Their strong, blunt beaks
drink the air

as they strive
melodiously
not for your sake
and not for mine

and not for the sake of winning
but for sheer delight and gratitude –
believe us, they say,
it is a serious thing

just to be alive
on this fresh morning
in the broken world.
I beg of you,

do not walk by
without pausing
to attend to this
rather ridiculous performance.

It could mean something.
It could mean everything.
It could be what Rilke meant, when he wrote:
You must change your life.

—  Mary Oliver, “Invitation” in  A Thousand Mornings (New York: Penguin Books, 2013).


Photo by Joshua J. Cotten of male goldfinch, Backyard, Cordova, TN, USA in October 2021 via unsplash

Lightly Child, Lightly

But I also say this:

that light is an invitation to happiness,

and that happiness, when it’s done right,

is a kind of holiness, palpable and redemptive.

~ Mary Oliver, from “Poppies” in New and Selected Poems, Volume One.


Notes:

  • Photo: DK @ Daybreak. Daybreak. 5:45 am, March 8, 2022. 38° F, feels like 27° F, winds up to 40 mph. Cove Island Park, Stamford, CT. . More pictures from this morning here.
  • Poem from Make Believe Boutique.
  • Post Title & Inspiration: Aldous Huxley: “It’s dark because you are trying too hard. Lightly child, lightly. Learn to do everything lightly. Yes, feel lightly even though you’re feeling deeply. Just lightly let things happen and lightly cope with them.”

Sunday Morning

Knowledge has entertained me and it has shaped me and it has failed me. Something in me still starves. In what is probably the most serious inquiry of my life, I have begun to look past reason, past the provable, in other directions. Now I think there is only one subject worth my attention and that is the precognition of the spiritual side of the world and, within this recognition, the condition of my own spiritual state.

– Mary Oliver, Winter Hours in “Upstream: Selected Essays


Notes:

  • There are moments, few moments, during my daybreak walks, when I can feel this spiritual side of the world that I don’t believe in. And this photo was one of those moments —  Feb 2 — Ground Hog Day —  Hump Day —  Something-bigger-than-it-all Day.
  • Photo: DK @ Daybreak. 6:36 am, Feb 2, 2022. 30° F, feels like 27° F. Cove Island Park, Stamford, CT
  • Quote: Thank you Beth @ Alive on All Channels

No religion except…

…No religion except whatever Mary Oliver had going on.


Notes:

  • Quote: Monkcore.
  • T-Shirt: Online Ceramics
  • Inspired by: “Oh, good scholar, I say to myself, how can you help but grow wise with such teachings as these— the untrimmable light of the world, the ocean’s shine, the prayers that are made out of grass?” —  Mary Oliver, from “Mindful” in “Why I Wake Early” (via Alive on All Channels)

And then I feel the sun itself…

And then I feel the sun itself
as it blazes over the hills,
like a million flowers on fire —
clearly I’m not needed,
yet I feel myself turning
into something of inexplicable value.

— Mary Oliver, ”The Buddha’s Last Instruction,” from House of Light.


Notes:

Walking. With very faint, very human(s).

Michael Ondaatje: “Trust me, this will take time but there is order here, very faint, very human.”

5:55 a.m. 340 consecutive days. Like in a row. Morning walk. This morning, Calf Pasture Beach, Norwalk. Dark Sky: 48° F. 96% cloud cover.

I walk.

6:01 a.m. Up ahead. Tall, lanky, young and solo. Hat pulled down over his ears. Shoulders sagging, heavy step. Not looking at skyline, head bowed. I stretch my gait to trace his steps, shoes sink in wet sand at low tide, my step, shoe size, almost a match. Ember from his cigarette glows in twilight, he flicks it away, and tucks both hands deep into his pockets. Mary Oliver: “When one is alone and lonely, the body gladly lingers in the wind or the rain…anything that touches.

6:13 a.m. Runner, unmasked, aggressively approaching in my lane on sidewalk. Shouting something, lips moving, but inaudible through my AirPods. “Did you get the sunrise on Wednesday?” He’s like inside of 3 feet, well inside of my personal space. And, it’s Saturday, like 3 days later, it’s near 100% overcast this morning, and I’ve never seen him before in my life. Have I somehow lost a day, or two? And, what was that, that hit my chin, spittle from his mouth, rain droplet or gull deposit?

He continues. “It was amazing!” I nod, smile back. He keeps running. It was amazing.

6:15 a.m. Two on the beach, shoeless, covered in a blanket. Giggling. Waving wands, soap bubbles rising, drifting then disappear. They dip the wands and repeat, giggling.

6:18 a.m. A familiar fellow walker is taking a shot of something in the tree. I look up to see a squirrel gnawing at a red apple, cheeks full. I keep walking, turn back, and see him toss another apple to his bushy friend.

6:20 a.m. Walker. Tall galoshes. Masked. With Goggles. Alien. I try to make eye contact — what kind of human is armoured up like this? She avoids eye contact and continues down the pier.

I walk.

[Read more…]

Lightly Child, Lightly.

Nothing but light —

scalding, aortal light —

in which we are washed and washed out of our bones.

—  Mary Oliver, from “White Owl Flies Into and Out of the Field” in “House of Light

 


Notes:

  • Photo: DK @ Daybreak. 5:23 am, March 11, 2021. 40° F. Cove Island Park, Stamford, CT.
  • Poem via Poems That I Love
  • Post Title & Inspiration: Aldous Huxley: “It’s dark because you are trying too hard. Lightly child, lightly. Learn to do everything lightly. Yes, feel lightly even though you’re feeling deeply. Just lightly let things happen and lightly cope with them.”

Walking. With Jack Kerouac.

5:50 am. 35° F.  299 consecutive days. In a row. Cove Island Park. Daybreak morning walk.

Three cars in the parking lot. Mine. A pick-up, with its occupant with a baseball cap over his eyes, car running.  And her subcompact Subaru, hatchback up.  It’s dusk, but I can see into the boot. Overflowing. Blankets. Boots. Boxes. Some spilled to the ground. Homeless? Living out of her car?

Late 60’s. She’s struggling to put on snow pants, one hand leaning against the car to keep balance.  She catches me staring.  “Good Morning,” I offer. She replies in kind. I turn away.  Give her her space. 

I walk.

I can’t shake the image. Alone? Lonely? Cold? Hungry? 

Warm morning, quiet, windless. Now, Heavy. It would have been easier to stomach if she was male and younger.

Mary Oliver: When one is alone and lonely, the body gladly lingers in the wind or the rain, or splashes into the cold river, or pushes through the ice-crusted snow.  Anything that touches.

I walk.

299 days. In a row. And I’ve not encountered this. I’m on the backside of my loop, and there She is. Left hand swinging a metal detector in a wide arc. Her headphones, over her blue wool hat, listening for the cackle of buried metal.  She stops, pokes at the dirt with her pole and keeps moving between the rocks on the shoreline.

I swing my camera from my right shoulder into position. Adjust the focus, once, and then again, and again. I slide my index finger to the shutter button, where it lingers for a split second; in that same split second, the metal detector rests, and she’s now staring at me through my camera viewfinder, through the long zoom lens, her face, her eyes, all bearing down on me. Damn!

She lifts the metal detector and continues — swinging the metal detector in a smooth, quarter moon arc, now with her back to me.  Myopic? Nearsighted? Has to be. No, she must have seen me.  [Read more…]

Monday Morning Wake-Up Call

—  Mary Oliver, from “Consequences”, Dream Work


Notes:

  • Quote Source: WeltenWellen.
  • Photo: DK, Daybreak. 6:36 am Jan 29, 2021. 13° F, feels like minus 4° F, wind gusts up to 38 mph. Cove Island Park, Stamford, CT.

the wild geese, high in the clean blue air, are heading home again

You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
For a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes, over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting —
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.

—  Mary Oliver, Wild Geese


Photo: Daybreak. Jan 9, 2021. 6:54 am. 24° F, feels like 13° F. Cove Island Park, Stamford CT

Happy New Year!

Ah, world, what lessons you prepare for us,
even in the leafless winter…
I feel my boots trying to leave the ground,
I feel my heart pumping hard…
I want to be light and frolicsome…
and afraid of nothing, as though I had wings.

— Mary Oliver, “Starlings in Winter” in “Owls and Other Fantasies: Poems and Essays


Notes:

  • Photo: DK, Birds @ Daybreak. Jan 1, 2021. 6:45 to 7am. 30° F, feels like 23° F. Cove Island Park, Stamford CT. More amazing scenes from this morning here and here.
  • Mary Oliver’s poem “Starlings in Winter” was edited. Full poem here @Mindfulbalance.  Thank you Karl for sharing for the Mary Oliver poem and the inspiration.

Sunday Morning

What I am, and I know it, is
responsible, joyful, thankful. I would not
give my life for a thousand of yours.

~ Mary Oliver, from “Straight Talk from Fox” in Redbird: Poems


Notes: Poem Source – Thank you beyondthefieldsweknow.org. Photo: Michael Blann / Getty Images

Miracle. All of it.

All I can tell you is what I know.

Look, and look again.
This world is not just a little thrill for the eyes.

It’s more than bones.
It’s more than the delicate wrist with its personal pulse.
It’s more than the beating of the single heart.
It’s praising.
It’s giving until the giving feels like receiving.
You have a life – just imagine that
You have this day, and maybe another, and maybe
still another.

– Mary Oliver, from “To Begin With, the Sweet Grass” in Evidence: Poems


Notes:

  • Poem – Thank you Beth @ Alive on All Channels. Art print: Heart of Aspens by Michael Zheng
  • Post title Inspired by Albert Einstein’s quote: “There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.”

Monday Morning Wake-Up Call

Softest of mornings, hello.
And what will you do today, I wonder,
to my heart?

– Mary Oliver, from “Softest of Mornings” from Long Life:  Essays and Other Writings


Notes: Poem (via litverve). Photo by nilay eren with (via Your Eyes Blaze Out)

Sunday Morning

When one is alone and lonely, the body
gladly lingers in the wind or the rain,
or splashes into the cold river, or
pushes through the ice-crusted snow.

Anything that touches.

God, or the gods, are invisible, quite
understandable. But holiness is visible,
entirely…

~ Mary Oliver, from “Leaves and Blossoms Along the Way” in Felicity.


Notes: Poem via Schonwieder. Photos via Aberrant Beauty

Flying Northeast #AA2716. With Birds.

We pulled away from the gate at DFW 30 minutes late, late Friday afternoon. Not bad. Could be worse.

Exit row, reclining seat. God Bless Shara (My Assistant). We’ve been together 6 years now. This seat, this trip, the car pick-up, managing trip expenses – here and there and there, always just right.

Jet engines on this late model Boeing throb, I’m sitting over the wings. We taxi out, make a slow turn, and then…

The engines shut down, and the Pilot comes on the intercom. No. No. No. Yes.

“Folks, I’m sorry. But there is flow control at LaGuardia. We’ve been advised that the wait could be up to 90 minutes. We need to wait on the runway in the event we get cleared sooner.”

Not a free seat open on this plane. A chorus of groans, a shifting in seats. We settle in. My arrival time, now potentially 10pm on Friday night. Shoulders slump, heaviness sets in.

I grab my smartphone and tap in “P-h-o-e-n-i-x:” (in classical mythology) a unique bird that lived for five or six centuries in the Arabian desert, after this time burning itself on a funeral pyre and rising from the ashes with renewed youth to live through another cycle. 

Let’s skip the funeral pyre part. But, the rest? Bring it on. To rise from the ashes. Live through another cycle. This trip that just won’t end.  Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday in Phoenix at a firm wide conference. Thursday and Friday with our team in Dallas.

What did you remember? [Read more…]

Walking Cross-Town. With a greeting party.

Yesterday. 3 a.m. I’m laying in bed, in darkness, exhausted. Eyelids, like anvils, won’t close. Won’t shut.

I’m swimming in Marina Benjamin’s head: “my head is lit up…like an out-of-hours factory…whirring generators flip on…lining up tasks in a shoulder-shoving queue…mostly I just fret, worry-beading problems and irritations…forming a manacle of woe.”

I have a 10 a.m. meeting in the city, an important meeting, with important people. The meeting is 7 hours away, like almost a full working day away, yet, I’m prepping. You need to sleep Friend, you will run out of steam by 10am.

It’s the 5:38 a.m. train to Grand Central. I can’t sleep. Can’t read. Can’t focus. I close my eyes and thoughts spin in a whirlwind, and then stop. Meditation. I’ve quit. It’s been three weeks. The app sits in the phone in my hand. The meditation prompts are a few clicks away. My fingers re-grip the phone. Now, do it now. You could use it now.  [Read more…]

Goodbye Mary Oliver

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.

― Mary Oliver, “Today” in A Thousand Mornings: Poems


Gif Source: (via Your Eyes Blaze Out).

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