Mary Oliver’s poem The Summer Day + the four reminders

Here’s another attempt to paraphrase the four reminders, aka the four mind-turning Reflections, into my own words:

  1. It’s a pretty unique and awesome thing to be born a human being;
  2. We don’t live forever;
  3. What we think and do affects our experience; and
  4. No matter how hard we try, we’re going to experience suffering in one way or another.

These always remind me of the last few lines of Mary Oliver’s poem The Summer Day:

Doesn’t everything die at last, and too soon?
Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?

Here she reads the entire poem, or you can read it below:

Who made the world?
Who made the swan, and the black bear?
Who made the grasshopper?
This grasshopper, I mean-
the one who has flung herself out of the grass,
the one who is eating sugar out of my hand,
who is moving her jaws back and forth instead of up and down-
who is gazing around with her enormous and complicated eyes.
Now she lifts her pale forearms and thoroughly washes her face.
Now she snaps her wings open, and floats away.
I don’t know exactly what a prayer is.
I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down
into the grass, how to kneel down in the grass,
how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields,
which is what I have been doing all day.
Tell me, what else should I have done?
Doesn’t everything die at last, and too soon?
Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?

I do miss strolling through the fields; Auckland experienced a record number of rain days in July, and August match it! That said, I’ve had more than my fair share of idle indoor hours lately, which equates to plenty of time to contemplate just how blessed I am, despite the weather. This human birth is precious indeed.

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