A Thousand Mornings
by Mary Oliver
I go to the shore in the morning
and depending on the hour the waves
are rolling in or moving out,
and I say, oh, I am miserable,
what shall –
what shall I do? And the sea says
in it’s lovely voice:
“ Excuse me I have work to do.”
You know when you read something, and you feel it so deeply that you have an experience that you wouldn’t have had otherwise? A passage or poem that shows you a part of yourself that’s been hidden from your view. The feelings it brings up have rolled around inside you, resurfacing again and again but for some unknown reason, you couldn’t make sense of them before. I had one of those days this week. I felt like all the underlying undone issues of my life ganged up on me, and there was no escaping this shroud of discomfort.
Still, in a funk, I read Mary Oliver’s poem this morning, and it disclosed my feelings. It wasn’t so much about what the poem expressed but more what it indicated. I was stuck, hunkering down in victimhood rather than getting on with my life. I wanted answers when my confusion showed up, and there were no answers to give. I wanted assurance that my concerns would be heard and healed but there were no guarantees.
I am usually pretty good at getting through difficulty, but all bets were off this week. Something deeper was at play and the only way I was going to get relief was to stay and listen to what my emotions were trying to tell me. This is not what I wanted to hear! I had to let go of what I thought I knew and show up as a beginner again. I needed a fresh new perspective because none of the old go to’s were working. With no other choice, I stayed with the sad feelings and listened. I was conscious of my need to feel the sadness and very aware of how I wanted to move away from it. After all, if we have to suffer to learn, then doing it in a conscious way gives us the chance to witness how we interact with our suffering.
I learned a lot about myself this week. I observed myself feeling awkward, angry and frustrated, emotions I am not proud of, but that have a purpose in my life. When we respect the uncomfortable emotions that show up to reveal imbalance, we can do something about them.
I was reminded this week of a couple things. First, thank God things always change. My discomfort lifted, not because I did something to numb it but because I stayed and learned from it.
Secondly, stay in the present moment. Even when life is moving in a lot of directions, you can take care of yourself right here, right now and find a way through.