In the Meantime…



I’m going through a time of transition. I wrote about resetting my compass in my last blog post. Boy, have I been resetting my compass, changing directions, and feeling a little windtossed, uncertain, scared, and excited. In my time of need, who helps me to feel brave and confident that I am stumbling down the right path? Mary Oliver, of course, one of the wisest poets of our time. I say, “What if I’m making the wrong decision? What if this path leads to failure, or worse (for me, anyways) unhappiness?”
Mary replies:
If it is your nature to be happy
you will swim away along the soft trails
for hours, your imagination
alighting everywhere.

Ah, yes. I see. The choice to be happy is mine. And so what if I do fail? What is failure but an opportunity to grow wiser? As the saying goes: No mud, no lotus.
I’ve prayed about, prepared for, and meditated on this decision. Regardless of what comes of it, I can still choose to be happy, the sun will rise and set, the lilies will still bloom in the fields and the ponds.

What I know: Every morning the world is created anew, each moment we have is precious, and we are never in control of what happens next. In this transition time, what I have come to call the meantime, I will focus on the wisdom that is found in the Bhagavad Gita. Repeated many times throughout this sacred text is a variation on this directive given to Arjuna: Act always without any attachment to the outcome. It is better to do your own duty badly, than to perfectly do another’s: you are safe from harm when you do what you should be doing.

I am going to do what I know I should be doing. After all, it is my duty, my dharma. In the meantime, there’s Mary Oliver.

“Morning Poem”–Mary Oliver
from Dream Work (1986)

Every morning
the world
is created.
Under the orange

sticks of the sun
the heaped
ashes of the night
turn into leaves again

and fasten themselves to the high branches —
and the ponds appear
like black cloth
on which are painted islands

of summer lilies.
If it is your nature
to be happy
you will swim away along the soft trails

for hours, your imagination
alighting everywhere.
And if your spirit
carries within it

the thorn
that is heavier than lead —
if it’s all you can do
to keep on trudging —

there is still
somewhere deep within you
a beast shouting that the earth
is exactly what it wanted —

each pond with its blazing lilies
is a prayer heard and answered
every morning,

whether or not
you have ever dared to be happy,
whether or not
you have ever dared to pray.


Author’s photos. Duke Gardens Lotus/Fish Pond, 2015.

4 thoughts on “In the Meantime…

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