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  • Writer's pictureAusten Hayes

Dose #14: Appreciation And The Art of Feeling Alive; A Tribute To Dearest Mary Oliver

I begin this post with a tribute to a favourite poet who left us this week - Mary Oliver. Ms. Oliver's words tell of the sacred, adoring relationship she had with the natural world, and some say, with God. Her poems are calming prayers of appreciation for the wonder and beauty of the tree, the flower, the bird, life in every form - miracles we sometimes miss along the way.

"Why I Wake Early"

"Hello, sun in my face.

Hello, you who make the morning

and spread it over the fields

and into the faces of the tulips

and the nodding morning glories,

and into the windows of, even, the

miserable and the crotchety--

best preacher that ever was,

dear star, that just happens

to be where you are in the universe

to keep us from ever-darkness,

to ease us with warm touching,

to hold us in the great hands of light--

good morning, good morning, good morning.

Watch, now, how I start the day

in happiness, in kindness.

~ Mary Oliver


Gratitude and appreciation are not the same. To be grateful is to recognize what you've been given, what you have, to note how fortunate you are to have it. Slightly different, these two allow a kind of precision in the quality of what one feels.

To appreciate is to cherish, to see how astonishing something can be. To be in awe, to value, to behold. To be amazed.

A potential, not always in awareness, appreciation is aroused by the unexpected, often dormant until something is lost, taken, something or someone is gone, or soon to go.

The day you learn you're being transferred to a far-away city, how does your world appear? The traffic you found troublesome, the crowds in your way, how do they look now as you prepare to leave them behind? Faces passed ten thousand times, blurred by self-centered concern, are they in focus, quite beautiful, even fascinating, no longer strangers, but remarkable people you regret you hadn't met?

And when someone you loved is you remember the days of hurt and disagreement or are memories of shared laughter, bright eyes, strong hands, giving heart, content for the movie in your mind? Will this loss teach you to appreciate or will you forget, will you take your day and the ones who remain for granted?

If the leaves fell and only one returned, would you look closely, study that one in its perfection?

If the doctor tells you time is limited, will you think about what you would have done differently? Will hours and minutes be too precious to waste, or will you forget, giving permission to the unimportant, letting it steal your days?

If the plump, tomato red cardinal at your window was the last you would see, would you see him as the sensation he is? Would you this time gaze long enough to memorize his majesty?

And, after a heart attack - are a man's priorities moved? Is an evening at home with the people he loves prized more than one more sale to one more client?

And, the first time you walk the streets in a place you've never been, are the flowers more glorious, the skies more blue, the buildings more textured? You, awakened and fully alive again.

The day you met your love, do you remember? What he said? How she looked? How your chest grew wildly full, body and mind, absorbed in every gesture, every flick of the eye, every lift of a glass?

But we forget. We grumble. We spend time thinking about what we don't have. We ignore. We take this world for granted. A little less alive than when we notice the tiny green sprig reaching to the sun, turn our face upward to a flock of geese, or feel the rain on bare skin.

Yes, gratitude, but step further into appreciation. What will you see this day as if for the first time - as if for the last?


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