One of the things that I struggle with both personally and professionally, is making sure that I’m spending my time on the right things. I am constantly worried that I’m spending my time on the wrong things that I could be doing something so much better with the very limited amount of time that I have in the day. I’ve been thinking a lot about this recently, as I’ve been spending time with my job professionally, and then what I’ve been doing in my personal life, and it’s summer, and with kids and the kids are getting ready to go back to school. Am I doing Am I doing the right things?
Recently, in one of the articles that I was reading, someone mentioned a poem by the great Mary Oliver titled “When Death Comes”. Very fortunate that I found this poem at this moment. It’s a very famous poem from a very famous poet. I’m going to read a little excerpt from this poem.
“When it is over, I want to say all my life, I was a bride married to amazement, I was a bridegroom taking the world into my arms. When it’s over, I don’t want to wonder if I have made my life something particular and real. I don’t want to find myself sighing and frightened or full of argument. I don’t want to end up simply having visited this world.”
I think that hits on the crux of what has been bothering me the most, I don’t want to end up having just visited this world, that’s line that has really stuck with me.
When reading more about Mary Oliver, I was struck with how she spent her personal time. According to her Wikipedia, she was an avid walker and would use that opportunity to think about her poems, her life, and find inspiration from the nature and the paths that were around her home. She would go on lots of walks, and would even hide pencils and pens and the trees to make sure that she wasn’t without something to be able to write down the thoughts that came to her. And I really felt that because it’s something that I do as well. Whenever I need to make a big decision, I oftentimes just put shoes on and go for a walk. No phone, no headphones, no music, no podcasts, just me and with my own thoughts. Because I need to clear space for myself in order to be able to hear what it is that I want to do. What decision do I want to make? which path Do I need to go down? And I find that time really, really valuable.
But as someone who fills my time and my schedule and my calendar and my to do lists that I overfill them constantly, that I struggled to find the time to make space for myself. And if we can’t make space for ourselves, and how do we expect to learn and make space for other people? How do we expect to be able to find the time and the education merit when we can’t even find the time for ourselves? How can we actually learn from another person? And that’s what really struck me with this poem, both in what I was saying, and being a visitor with this world, and then also Mary Oliver herself and how she spent her time and how important it is to make space for ourselves. In order to be able to clear the air, be able to hear our own thoughts be able to step away and be able to find out what is important to us and what it is that we want to say.
Now to come back to the poem that last line, I don’t want to just be a visitor. When you go on vacation, and you’re a visitor to another place, you don’t that you don’t get to learn that place very well. You spend a lot of time in the tourist areas, those areas are designed for a specific experience, not the “I lived there experience”, but instead to feed the myth about what that area is and not actually represent what it is like to live there to be with it to be inside of that area. You visit the tourist areas, you just fritter away your time breezing through these tourist areas, and no goal in mind, no path that you want to go down and no impression that you want to make on the area. And then you just kind of let the world happen to you.
And that’s what I really love about this poem, that I simply don’t want to be a visitor, that I want to live in amazement and wonder. That we don’t have to leave our space in order to be able to do that, that we simply just need to be with ourselves to listen to what it is that we want to spend the time to absorb the area that is around us to go on those walks to get to know nature to be on those trails. And if we spend the time to do that, we will be surprised at what it is that’s around us. We will be surprised at the beauty and the wonder and the amazement that surrounds us everywhere. And we’ll find inspiration in that and we’ll find direction in that as long as we give ourselves space to see it, to hear it, to taste it. And then the opportunity to be able to live with it. And if we take that time, not just personally but professionally, to live it, to know it, to breathe it, to be in it, to be in the moment to clear that space so that you are actually able to live in that moment. We will be so, so much more successful in finding wonder and amazement as leaders, as parents, as spouses, as friends, we will have that opportunity.
So that’s what I got this time. I’d love to hear what your thoughts are on this topic. Leave a note below wherever you’re watching this video. I would love to see that. That’s what I got this time. I’ll see y'all next time.