An Excerpt from Jim Conrad's
NATURALIST NEWSLETTER
of January 28, 2018
Issued from Rancho Regenesis near Ek Balam ruins 20kms north of Valladolid, Yucat√°n, Mexico

INSTRUCTIONS FOR LIVING A LIFE

Newsletter reader Alan in the US wrote commenting on my remark in the recent essay "Katrina's Nose" that, "...if we are all hooked into, or are part, of a Universal Mentality -- and I suspect we are -- then all our human, Earthly experiences are of value to the Universal Mentality, whether they're 'good' or 'bad.' The job of us nerve endings is to experience."

In his letter, Alan introduced me to the living poet Mary Oliver, who in her poem "Sometimes" writes:

Instructions for living a life:
Pay attention.
Be astonished.
Tell about it.

I like that. I've added it to our "Nature Quotations" page at http://www.backyardnature.net/101/quotes.htm

This week, here's what the poem set me to thinking about:

First of all, the advice to "pay attention" builds on the "Katrina's Nose" insight that our human job is "to experience." It continues that thought because the most meaningful, spectacular, beautiful experiences noticed when we "pay attention" are those revealed by our mentalities. The coldness of ice and the flavor of a peach are worthy sensations, but they pale compared with the awe felt when with our mentalities we "pay attention" by reflecting deeply on the outrageously big, complex and mysterious Universe, and our place in it. Something almost unbearably majestic is going on, and our everyday lives are vital expressions of that, yet few people even realize it...

Mary Oliver points out that when we do pay attention, the next step is to be astonished -- which in my experience happens naturally when you pay attention.

And, once we recover from our astonishment enough to think coherently, "tell about it." I like to think that this third admonition comes about because Mary Oliver shares my feeling that the most majestic feature of the Universe and its contents is that everything is lustily, poetically evolving. And our mentalities can't evolve to higher levels of paying attention and being astonished even more unless those of us who are astonished share our insights with others -- if we "tell about it." The astonishment must be passed on, and nurtured.

Thinking about Mary Oliver's poem this week, and Alan's urge to share it with us, I've enjoyed meditating on the fact that in this world with so much happening because of insensitivity and ignorance, this little current of sweetly radiant thought and feeling made its way to me through a friend, and that I'm in a position right here and now -- thanks to your willingness to read these words -- to tell about it.