Do you have time to linger?
Or do you feel the need to keep on going…
until the work is done,
until the sun has set,
until your body demands rest?
A few nights ago, I was sitting at my kitchen table with a long list of to-dos. It was the third night in a row I was up late trying to check a few more things off and get myself in order.
But my body screamed in protest.
It made me stop and close my planner and go to bed despite the series of unchecked boxes taunting me as I went.
Why do I so often wait until my body screams at me to rest?
Why do I feel guilty when I listen?
And, seriously, why do I always forget that almost every time I take care of me, my work improves in quality and in speed of execution?
I don’t know about you, but it’s almost the end of August and I am exhausted.
I think this happens every year for a lot of educators (and parents and students) at the start of a school year. We are working to learn new polices, new names, new schedules… We are working to get our feet underneath us and settle into this year’s routine.
I think this also happens for a lot of people at the start of something big and new…
We go all in.
We forget to play the long game.
We forget to linger and take notice of each day before it passes.
We don’t see the birds or hear their beautiful song.
In a poem called “Invitation”, Mary Oliver invites us to linger and watch the birds as they start their day. She writes this about their movements:
“Their strong, blunt beaks
drink the air
as they strive
not for your sake
and not for mine
and not for the sake of winning
but for sheer delight and gratitude –“
She marks their movements as something beautiful, an act of gratitude and praise for just being alive.
It’s Thursday, and I’m sitting here wondering if I spent more than just the short walk from my car to my school outside this week. I’m wondering if I heard or noticed any bird at all.
I don’t think I have.
So this morning I’m sitting with these words of Mary Oliver:
“it is a serious thing
just to be alive
on this fresh morning
in the broken world.”
And I’m pausing to take notice.