Why should we care? Why should we try? There is so much fear, so much sadness that sweeps through our lives, as a result of loss, disappointment, regret, guilt, shame, insecurity. Why should we try to feel better? Why encourage others to do so?
Because we don’t have much time.
Yes, of course this knowledge can be used to further darken our doorstep, but that would be wasteful. We have whatever time we have. None of us knows with certainty how much. And so this moment, this day, right now, is what we have available to look up, look around, see what we can see, hear what we can hear, feel what we can feel, and so on. With all our senses and all our heart. Yes, sometimes it hurts. Sometimes it infuriates. Sometimes it confuses with staggering humility.
And this is life. It never promised to be anything else but what it is. The confusion has always been on our end; not life’s end. We just need a bit of help learning each other’s language–us and life–and we can be hopeful that eventually things will become much, much clearer. The key is to open up to all of it, since it happens whether we are open or not. If we want to live while we’re alive, we are better off not pushing life away just because we don’t like what it is doing. The more we push away, the less of it we get, and there’s still, while we are alive, so much more to discover.
The Summer Day
by Mary Oliver
Who made the world?
Who made the swan, and the black bear?
Who made the grasshopper?
This grasshopper, I mean—
the one who has flung herself out of the grass,
the one who is eating sugar out of my hand,
who is moving her jaws back and forth instead of up and down—
who is gazing around with her enormous and complicated eyes.
Now she lifts her pale forearms and thoroughly washes her face.
Now she snaps her wings open, and floats away.
I don’t know exactly what a prayer is.
I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down
into the grass, how to kneel down in the grass,
how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields,
which is what I have been doing all day.
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?