Social Distancing

posted in: Poems | 0

The world is changing! I have stayed in my apartment more in the last few weeks than at any time in the past. I am guessing I am not the only one.

I needed to get out into nature, with many people going to parks to get some outside activity, I decided to go to the San Joaquin River. My hope, there would not be a lot of people there. My strategy paid off.

I found a great spot. I pulled open my backpack to get my blanket and all I had was a little towel, there is always something that I forget when leaving the house. Small inconveniences didn’t interfere with space I had created for myself.

I continued to rummage around my backpack for one of the books of poetry I brought. I grabbed Reflections by Mary Oliver. As I sat there listening to the river flow,, hearing the frogs sing and birds rehearse their songs over and over, I began to be aware of just how much I am apart of nature. I am now and have been. The speed of life has not separated me, but the priorities I have chosen can feel disconnected at times.

This pause we have all been gifted by COVID 19 has allowed me to slow down and remember some of the things I need take time, and have no productivity score attached to it. “Being” does not fit into an industrialized system.

I turned a few pages in my Mary Oliver book and this poem below seemed to stand out.

Mary Oliver, “Invitation,” A Thousand Mornings 

Oh do you have time
to linger
for just a little while
out of your busy

and very important day
for the goldfinches
that have gathered
in a field of thistles

for a musical battle,
to see who can sing
the highest note,
or the lowest,

or the most expressive of mirth,
or the most tender?
Their strong, blunt beaks
drink the air

as they strive
not for your sake
and not for mine

and not for the sake of winning
but for sheer delight and gratitude –
believe us, they say,
it is a serious thing

just to be alive
on this fresh morning
in the broken world.
I beg of you,

do not walk by
without pausing
to attend to this
rather ridiculous performance.

It could mean something.
It could mean everything.
It could be what Rilke meant, when he wrote:
You must change your life.

I can't hear you?