This passage – not quite a Haiku, but with that feeling – comes as part of Mary Oliver’s poem “Sometimes.” It is introduced in the poem as “Instructions for living a life.” I’m not good at poetry (a gap and regret in my life) but friends who haven’t given up on me send me Mary Oliver. I’d have to hunt my bookshelves to know if this poem is there. I hope so.
I heard this passage over the weekend on Travel with Rick Steves, while guiding my car around the twists and turns of a five-hour road trip through the mountains. I wouldn’t have tuned into Steves on my own, but I had limited radio reach and sometimes serendipity offers the best gifts. (Kind of like those forgiving friends.) Steves was interviewing David Ellingson, a retired minister who now pursues a passion (obsession?) for running, hiking and kayaking while he contemplates life. He has written about the latter in his book “Paddle Pilgrim.” Ellingson quoted Oliver in response to a question about motivation.
When I heard it, my instant reaction was a mental fist-bump. (I was driving in the mountains, remember, so the real thing would have been unwise.) Because Oliver’s “Instructions for living a life” are also instructions for doing great journalism.
Tell about it.
Please give special thought to the “be astonished” part.