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👀 If The World Was Ending, You'd Come Over, Right?
#230 | Mary Oliver, life-giver
Last week I turned 27 years old. A couple of years ago (okay.. maybe even a couple of months ago), I used to think of 27 as OLD. But now that I am 27, it doesn't seem to be.. THAT old.
Ever since we turned 25, my friends and I have felt an ageist panic slowly creeping into our conversations, our insecurities, and our plans. We were supposed to be in our early 20s forever - that was the deal (with whom though?). But on the other side of 25, we're noticing small changes here and there.
Worse hangovers. Random back pains and eye twitches. Reduced tolerance for teenagers' shenanigans. Higher tolerance for talking about finances. Increased affinity to the phrase "back in our day..."
If you're older than me, you're most probably thinking, "Shut up! You're still young." To them, I say, you're right.
You didn't spend your twenties shrouded in an overwhelming sense of doom. Talk to anybody my age (as long as they're even borderline informed about what's going on around the world); they're unlikely to be hopeful about the Future.
Our mid-twenties were ravaged by the pandemic (that trauma's never going away), and now we're at a point in time where you can only deny the ongoing impact of the climate crisis if you're the kind of person who thinks that Pepsi is better than Coke (i.e. your views are untethered to reality).
Before you say every generation has dealt with crap in some form - you guys didn't have the cesspool called the Internet intertwined with every aspect of your life. Any prospect of salvation died the day smartphones became available in the market.
There's also the fact that pretty much every country is hounded either by inequality or corruption or war or a disastrous combination of all these things and worse (yes, even those countries which come out at the top of the "happiness index". I call Bullshit).
So yeah, we might be young, technically, but it sure as hell doesn't feel like a party.
Before you rightly label me as a cynic and a pessimist, let me offer you today's thing.
Today I've got Just One Thing for you, and that thing is Mary Oliver's poetry.
Mary Oliver's poetry was in my First Aid Kit: Heartbreak Edition and also part of my
Doomsday Kit: Existential Crisis Edition. There is perhaps only one other poet who can make me feel the way Mary does about life and how to live it, but that's for another time.
Mary's words are seldom complex. Her sentences are always lucid, and her metaphor, though rooted in the singularities of the North American ecosystem, resonates with everyone who's ever felt a twinge of unexpected happiness at the flicker of sunlight bouncing off a blade of dew-drenched grass.
In 'Of Love', she pays homage to the many visits love pays us throughout our lives - sometimes for just one afternoon.
In 'Don't hesitate', she urges the reader to give in to sudden joy - whenever it may come, and however long it may stay.
In 'The Uses of Sorrow', she talks about the "boxful of darkness" that turned out to be a gift.
Your late twenties can sometimes feel like boxes full of darkness (and other gory, mysterious and inexplicably complicated entities) stacked on top of one another, but in the part of my heart that stops to look at the sky every morning, I know that each year is still a gift, still a revelation, still a universe brimming with endless possibility.