Traveling with Mary Oliver

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I found all kinds of wonderful sentences, paragraphs and trains of thought in her collection of essays “Upstream”. Here are two of the sentences that keep coming back to me, “I am not a traveler. Not of that sort.” She writes this after listing overseas trips she has taken noting that she has, “never forgotten how it felt to think I was going to fall off the planet.” So she wasn’t an adventurer in the classic sense that often includes travel, but no one who has read her work could deny her adventurous spirit.

While traveling to far corners of the globe unnerved her, she held that nerve on so many travels that others would shrink from. She escaped from a difficult childhood home whenever possible into the the woods, into books. She chose a career as a poet at a young age. Maybe she couldn’t refuse that call, but it still seems daring.

I don’t claim to know her work in its entirety, but what I know of it tells me what kind of traveler she was. She was willing to expose herself to the unknown, to question the natural and spiritual worlds, to probe further, seeking. She had the intrepid spirit of an artist traveling into the darkness before us all, holding her lantern high. She could look unblinkingly into the abyss and then turn and send back poems to light our way.

Pulse check on your spirit of adventure

As you head into this weekend, think about where you really are in your life. Not all the boxes you’ve ticked, but where you truly are. This poem by Oriah Mountain Dreamer might get your thoughts going in the right direction.

The Invitation

It doesn’t interest me
what you do for a living.
I want to know
what you ache for
and if you dare to dream
of meeting your heart’s longing.

It doesn’t interest me
how old you are.
I want to know
if you will risk
looking like a fool
for love
for your dream
for the adventure of being alive.

It doesn’t interest me
what planets are
squaring your moon…
I want to know
if you have touched
the centre of your own sorrow
if you have been opened
by life’s betrayals
or have become shrivelled and closed
from fear of further pain.

I want to know
if you can sit with pain
mine or your own
without moving to hide it
or fade it
or fix it.

I want to know
if you can be with joy
mine or your own
if you can dance with wildness
and let the ecstasy fill you
to the tips of your fingers and toes
without cautioning us
to be careful
to be realistic
to remember the limitations
of being human.

It doesn’t interest me
if the story you are telling me
is true.
I want to know if you can
disappoint another
to be true to yourself.
If you can bear
the accusation of betrayal
and not betray your own soul.
If you can be faithless
and therefore trustworthy.

I want to know if you can see Beauty
even when it is not pretty
every day.
And if you can source your own life
from its presence.

I want to know
if you can live with failure
yours and mine
and still stand at the edge of the lake
and shout to the silver of the full moon,
“Yes.”

It doesn’t interest me
to know where you live
or how much money you have.
I want to know if you can get up
after the night of grief and despair
weary and bruised to the bone
and do what needs to be done
to feed the children.

It doesn’t interest me
who you know
or how you came to be here.
I want to know if you will stand
in the centre of the fire
with me
and not shrink back.

It doesn’t interest me
where or what or with whom
you have studied.
I want to know
what sustains you
from the inside
when all else falls away.

I want to know
if you can be alone
with yourself
and if you truly like
the company you keep
in the empty moments.

Welcome

Life is either a daring adventure or nothing.

— Helen Keller

Hello dear reader! Welcome to my new blog about adventures of all shapes and sizes. Understood in broad terms, adventure is one of the most central concepts of my life. Of course, I love a good ol’ fashioned adventure – taking off in the unknown with the certainty that I will be surprised, challenged and most importantly learning about myself and the great wide world.

My current life doesn’t afford me the large blocks of time I had in my twenties to go on adventures. Now that I’m raising a family, having a career and running a household, I’ve come to appreciate all manner of adventure: adventures with kids and family, adventures of the heart, intellectual adventures and even the pedestrian adventures that are possible in the mundane every day life. I’ve found there is almost always opportunity for adventure if I look.

The purpose of this blog is to create a space for a community of people who are seeking adventure in their lives and making them happen. People just like you.