Mary Oliver writes such wonderful poetry, even when it looks like prose. I find a depth in the words and spaces that calls me to reflect upon the cultural and personal constraints that surround me. Certainly, I need those constraints. They guide me through the moment-to-moment actions of my daily life. I need those words that help me make sense of the most immediate world that I often take-for-granted.
What if I lived in the north? I would need those many words and an awareness of what the snow told me to survive. I read today that mother orangutans spend 7-8 years with each offspring. During that time, the mothers appear to teach the ways of life necessary for the offspring’s survival. I say appear, because we cannot communicate with them well enough to know with certainty. There is something mystical about that existence that cannot be fully grasped. So even in the orangutan world, there is a culture and communication that helps them negotiate their terrain instinctively.
I love the line “Their infallible sense of what their lives are meant to be.” Just like the lilies of the field, those other kingdoms exist in ways that allow the world that includes us to grow sweetly wild, when we are attentive and mindful to the world.
Consider the other kingdoms. The
trees, for example, with their mellow-sounding
titles: oak, aspen, willow.
Or the snow, for which the peoples of the north
have dozens of words to describe its
different arrivals. Or the creatures, with their
thick fur, their shy and wordless gaze. Their
infallible sense of what their lives
are meant to be. Thus the world
grows rich, grows wild, and you too,
grow rich, grow sweetly wild, as you too
were born to be.