Yesterday the world lost Mary Oliver, a person who taught me how to write and how to live. Rest In Poetry, Mary. We will certain rest in yours.
Don’t Hesitate by Mary Oliver
If you suddenly and unexpectedly feel joy, don’t hesitate.
Give in to it.
There are plenty of lives and whole towns destroyed or about to be.
We are not wise, and not very often kind.
And much can never be redeemed.
Still life has some possibility left.
Perhaps this is its way of fighting back, that sometimes something happened better than all the riches or power in the world.
It could be anything, but very likely you notice it in the instant when love begins. Anyway, that’s often the case.
Anyway, whatever it is, don’t be afraid of its plenty.
Joy is not made to be a crumb.
“Time’s chief beauty is you can’t waste it in advance. The next year, day, hour lie ready for you, perfect, unspoiled, as if you’d never wasted or misapplied a single moment in all your life. You can turn over a new leaf every hour if you choose” -Arnold Bennett
Today you get a whole new start. You’ll also get a fresh start in an hour, even in a minute. You are never stuck. Every moment is a chance and a choice to change.
If you want to really know me, listen to this interview. The big question for me in this lifetime is, “Does everything matter or does nothing matter?” A few months ago, I gave the most personal interview I’ve ever done. My friend, mentor, and storytelling hero, John Bucher, introduced me to Josh Chambers and Leiv Parton, hosts and producer of the podcast, How Humans Change. My interview is now live. our wide-ranging conversation includes career, science, sustainability, the health of the planet, biomimicry, dinosaurs, product development, therapy, curiosity, change, the economy and capitalism, time, technology, work, culture, implicit bias, life-changing moments, storytelling, writing, poverty, trauma, writing, my book, mental health, strength, resilience, therapy, fear, courage, my apartment building fire, how my plane got struck by lightning, and so much more. Despite these dark topics, there is a lot of light, fun, laughter, and healing in this interview. It’s the most personal interview I’ve ever given, and some of the details I reveal about my personal path and past I have never discussed publicly before now. I hope you enjoy the podcast episode and that it inspires you to live the best life you can imagine.
“I wanted a perfect ending. Now I’ve learned, the hard way, that some poems don’t rhyme, and some stories don’t have a clear beginning, middle, and end. Life is about not knowing, having to change, taking the moment and making the best of it, without knowing what’s going to happen next. Delicious Ambiguity.” ~Gilda Rader
The older I get, the more I’ve learned to love the imperfections of life and of people. The crooked path, the flaws, the messiness. Those things are what I remember. Those are the things that taught me what I needed to learn. Perfect hasn’t given me anything except anxiety and fear. Imperfect has given me possibility, opportunity, empathy, and compassion. Which would you prefer?
Yesterday, I did an interview for a podcast called How Humans Change. I spoke with hosts Josh Chambers and Leiv Parton about change, transformation, death, trauma, writing, mental health, choices, poverty, technology, career, the passage of time, therapy, science, dinosaurs, biomimicry, super powers, and how healing, while difficult, is the best motivator of all. It’s my most personal interview to-date.
Some people who hear it will be surprised, and others will have answers to some long outstanding questions that I have rarely discussed in the past. I’m making a more concerted effort to address these topics thoughtfully, authentically, and often.
I always love meeting members of my tribe and these guys are definitely part of it. Thank you to my amazing friend and mentor, John Bucher, for connecting me to them. I’ll share the episode link when it’s live. Until then, give their first season a listen by clicking here.
If there’s something you’re burning to do, do it now. Last night I learned that a man I greatly admire, someone who was an enormous help to me during my job search last year, passed away of a sudden heart attack. He went out for his morning jog, in seemingly perfect health, and didn’t come home. He was only 49 years old.
His advice and introductions were a tremendous source of encouragement to me at a difficult time. I had just moved back to New York after two years away, was doing a full-time job search, and was dealing with a heavy dose of change and uncertainty. Though I wore a brave face, I was constantly worried about just about everything. The first time I met him in person, I was having a particularly low day.
I went to his office and despite the fact that he was insanely busy, he gave me so much of his time. He was completely relaxed and didn’t rush me at all. I felt right at home talking to him, as if I had known him all my life. That’s the kind of person he was. He listened to my dreams, and immediately started introducing me to everyone and anyone he knew whom he thought could help me.
When I got my job offers, he helped me think through them so I would make the best choice. All of his advice was spot-on. The last time I saw him, he gave me a big hug, and said, “You know it’s all going to be okay. It always is. You just keep working hard and it’ll work out.” And he was right.
The best way I can think to honor him is to follow his advice to the letter. And I will. Don’t wait to do what you love. You never know how much time you have.
The most valuable gifts we can give others are our time and attention. So often what others need is just someone to really listen. Grateful for my good set of ears and my ability to offer help, support, and encouragement. We’re all just walking each other home.
The Peace of Wild Things by Wendell Berry
When despair for the world grows in me
and I wake in the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting with their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.
I’ve been thinking about this poem a lot lately. I’ve been listening to the anxiety and sadness of my friends, and of the world. I’m struggling a little to find the best ways to help as many people as I can, as well as I can. And sometimes that desire to help, that feeling that I’m just not doing enough to that end, overwhelms me. So a poem like this that reminds me to find comfort in nature, seen and unseen, and always felt, helps me breathe a little easier. Once I have my breath again, I can keep going, doing as much as I can with what I have. And knowing that that is enough.
“No such thing as spare time, no such thing as free time
No such thing as down time
All you got is life time”
“When I have the time…”
Does that sound familiar? We all do it. We say we’ll do what we really want to do when we have the time. The truth is that the only time you have is right now. There isn’t going to be some magical day when all of a sudden you finally have extra time. Or energy. Or money. Or resources. You have all of those things right now. And no, they may not be perfect. They may not be how or how much you imagined. You find time in drips and drabs, in fits and starts. And that’s when the work gets done, not in one smooth continuous line but in the constant, daily commitment to do as much as you can with what you have right now. I often have to tell myself, “Stop making excuses. Just do the damn thing.” It’s not the most elegant motto., but it’s how things get done.
April was a tough month for me. It was stressful personally and professionally so this weekend was all about self-care. Good food, friends, dogs, art, time in the sunshine, books, exploring New York, and sleep. Life can wear us out and it’s up to us to refill the well so that we can continue to give the world our best. Renewed, I’m ready for Monday.