The Journey: Diana Nyad, Mary Oliver, and Me

That’s Ruby on the left. Mary Oliver loved dogs, and this post needed a photo. I have no idea how Oliver felt about barbecue sauce.

The poet Mary Oliver died on Thursday. I almost hate to admit how much I like her work—not because she isn’t all morose and difficult like poets are supposed to be, but because some people (well, one in particular) misappropriate and befoul her words.

Slate recently published a delightful piece by Rebecca Onion—“Wild and Precious Life: My mom, Mary Oliver, fancy smart people, and me.”

In the piece, Onion quotes Oliver’s “Mysteries, Yes,” two lines of which seem appropriate here:

Let me keep my distance, always, from those
who twho think they have the answers.

Compare:

I’m in my sixties. My baby boom fellow generation’s
Gonna say, “right on, you know. You show us the way.” (Diana Nyad with Tavis Smiley, 16 Sept 2013)

<°))̂)̖)><    ><((̗(̂(°>

So keep your distance from the speaker of the latter but not from the writer of the former. And maybe check out “The Journey.” You can find the whole thing, appropriately enough, on Oprah’s site.

“The Journey” ends:

…And there was a new voice,
Which you slowly
Recognized as your own,
That kept you company
As you strode deeper and deeper
Into the world,
Determined to do
The only thing you could do‚
Determined to save
The only life you could save.

Thank you, Mary.

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