On Meditating, Sort Of
by: Mary Oliver
Meditation, so I've heard, is best accomplished
if you entertain a certain strict posture.
Frankly, I prefer just to lounge under a tree.
So why should I think I could ever be successful?
Some days I fall asleep, or land in that
even better place--half-asleep--where the world,
spring, summer, autumn, winter--
flies through my mind in its
hardy ascent and its uncompromising descent.
So I just lie like that, while distance and time
reveal their true attitudes: they never
heard of me, and never will, or ever need to.
Of course I wake up finally
thinking, how wonderful to be who I am,
made out of earth and water,
my own thoughts, my own fingerprints--
all that glorious, temporary stuff.
I think that poetry is my meditation. And maybe writing these blog posts. Anything that takes me out of myself and my own obsessive mind, for even a little while, is meditation. Of course, there's always the return to myself, as Oliver says the "earth and water" of who I am. Yet, it's good to be able to expand a little. To think of things other than my own insignificant problems and insecurities.
Today, I want to meditate on a person who's been a part of my life for over 30 years. She's been by my side during some of the most difficult times of my life, and she has been the root of some of the most difficult times of my life, as well. She knows me better than any other person on this planet. I think she would say the same about me.
I don't often write about my relationship with this person straightforwardly. Our life together has been, at times, tumultuous, and the difficulties we've experienced have been incredibly personal and painful. Yet, through all of it, I've never lost faith in her love for me, and I try to demonstrate on a daily basis my love for her (sometimes no that successfully, I'm afraid).
Believe it or not, living with a poet is not the easiest thing in the world. I can only speak for myself, of course, but I know that I can be withdrawn, sad, surly, emotional, and a little selfish at times. I don't think that's unusual for a poet. To be any kind of artist requires, I think, a certain degree of self-centeredness.
The fact that the person I'm writing about today has stuck with me this long is kind of amazing. Yet, in the life we have carved out for ourselves, she has faced tremendous struggles, as well, with mental illness, self esteem, sexual addiction, and self harm. She bears the scars of these struggles. Literally. I know that each day she gets out of bed is a victory for her. Each night she climbs into bed, a battle with herself that she has won.
We take the people closest to us for granted. Because we trust that, no matter what shit storms we create, those people will always be there to pick up the pieces. I am guilty of this. Every day, I commit first degree taking for granted. It's not something of which I'm proud.
So, today, I want to pay close attention. Meditate on this person. I want her to know that I think she's amazingly brave and beautiful. That I see her trying to be the best she can be, each and every day. That's all that anybody can ever do.
Today is Martin Luther King Day, and I think that Dr. King would agree with me on this point. We all need to try to be the best versions of ourselves, even if we sometimes fail abysmally. Because, each time we fail, we're one step closer to our dreams. We are all wonderfully created--out of earth, water, thoughts, fingerprints, and failures. All that glorious, temporary stuff.
Saint Marty is proud to have a life partner who, no matter how many times she stumbles, never gives up on her dreams.
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