Saturday, March 10, 2012

What else have I missed?

Writing my last post about cranes and phoebes took a lot from me to put into words. I have not yet had the emotional oomph to make the time to thoughtfully respond to those of you who took your time to share your beautiful comments (or send them to me silently through the airwaves). I will do that when I am ready to devote myself to re-reading and thinking deeply about each beautiful thought sent to me.

However, right now, I have to admit that I honestly and regrettably consider myself rather 'illiterate', and a perfect example is the fact that Julie's inclusion in her comment of a poem by Mary Oliver was my first exposure to this heart-stopping poet. Where have I been? What else have I missed in life?

I will also quickly confess here that I know I have missed a lot, a lot of really good stuff, because life is just too large to brush shoulders with everything, even being as fortunate as I am to have lived so long.

Oh, I also live in a house called Gratitude, and this poem made me feel as if a new friend was kissing away those final tears of sadness and grief from my cheeks.  My bedside now has one of Mary Oliver's multiple books of poetry. Our library does not have them all, but it has a bundle of them. The fact that the vast majority of them having a waiting list of readers a mile long confirmed that 'I have missed something', something good.  :)

I do love cranes and phoebes. I also love swans. Swans have been a touch-stone for happiness and healing for me for a long, long time, well, maybe even before this lifetime. After years and years (decades) of looking for Tundra swans (formerly called Whistling swans) during spring migration in flooded farm fields during the month of March, the breath-takingly beautiful and very special (uncommon, even rare) Trumpeter swans actually came to visit me on the small pond in the neighborhood where I lived before moving to our farm. Thus, it was suitable that Trumpeter swans ended up on the cover of my book when I finally had a 'real cover' made for the 2002 reprint instead of my having the information in a plain spoken booklet cover that I had done since I first published my book in 1997 (I was and am still a 'substance over style' type of girl).

I give you this backstory to lead into the astounding fact that of all the books of poetry that Mary Oliver has published, of all of those that our library has or doesn't have, of all of those that had the long waiting lists, the one lonely book sitting on the shelf hoping to be checked out was the one with the title Swan: Poem and Prose Poems. Accidental? I don't think so. :) I 'grabbed it', afraid that another hand from anyone, in fact everyone who all apparently know more than I do, would grab it out from under me.

Of course I skipped right to the poem entitled Swan. I'll just give you the last 3 lines. The first 14 are just as lovely but I'll let you have the gift of finding and reading the entire poem yourself.

And did you feel it, in your heart, how it pertained to everything? 
And have you too finally figured out what beauty is for?
And have you changed your life? 

My older son and his wife are in town for a very sad memorial service to be held tomorrow, for a special friend of theirs who died a sudden and unexpected death, being hit while standing on a street corner by an impaired driver. There are clearly many ways and many times in a life to die, and only a very few of them could be labeled 'fair'. This death clearly was not 'fair'. Cancer is also not 'fair. It is no picnic, no walk in the park, and I wouldn't wish any type of cancer diagnosis on anyone. However, the walk one takes after hearing those chilling words "you have cancer' gives one ample time to change, to have new eyes, a new heart, a clear vision that time is short with the deep understanding that not a day is to be wasted without seeing some small beauty and then sharing that beauty by helping someone else in some small way. 

Here is a photo (a real photo - way before digital photography, at least for me!) I took of the flock of Trumpeter swans that came to see me, swimming toward me. There were six of them, but no matter how I tried, I could only get five in any photo at once. 

(..........such gifts, bestowed, can't be repeated........)
I hope you find your swan, crane, phoebe, your gift, whatever is special to you to see with your eyes or feel with your heart the beauty that is all around us. I hope you also live in a house called Gratitude, whether for one more day or a zillion more, and that you too, look around each and every day for what else you might have missed.

I live for and enjoy finding the next beautiful thing, or person, or poem, or idea, or garlic variety, or kale recipe, or etc, etc (you get the idea!) that I may have missed so far. It may be something entirely new to me or something there all along. In each case, my reaction, with a smile on my face, is on the order of "My gosh, where have you been all my life? How did I miss you?"

I wonder if it is possible to see life in this way, in this light, without having had to live in, crawl, grope, and work one's way through darkness. 

Cultivate your life - you are what you grow (and notice!) - inch by inch, row by row,

Diana Dyer, MS, RD 


Maru said...

Glad you discovered Mary Oliver! That's one of the best turning points in any woman's life.

Diana Dyer said...

Another of her books is now ready for me to pick up at the library. I'm just guessing I will need to purchase some as permanent night-time reading.

I would love to hear suggestions for other authors who fit Maru's beautiful description of Mary Oliver. :)