The Journey

One day you finally knew
what you had to do, and began,
though the voices around you
kept shouting
their bad advice--
though the whole house
began to tremble
and you felt the old tug
at your ankles.
"Mend my life!"
each voice cried.
But you didn't stop.
You knew what you had to do,
though the wind pried
with its stiff fingers
at the very foundations,
though their melancholy
was terrible.
It was already late
enough, and a wild night,
and the road full of fallen
branches and stones.
But little by little,
as you left their voices behind,
the stars began to burn
through the sheets of clouds,
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.

by Mary Oliver

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Comments (3)

Determined to do the only thing You could do. Determined to save the only life you could save.nice
As a 46 year old in the throughs of mid life 'challenges', this poem hit home. This is not to say that the truths contained herein do not apply to other times. I recall another time in my life, another epoch 15 years earlier where it also applied. At this point in my life, I find the the phrase 'mend my life' particularly poignant. After raising three great kids and looking forward to the second half to reconnect with my spouse and seek another level of fullfilment in the second half, many of those that we truly love want to hold us back by not encouraging us to seek our potential at whatever frontier we are drawn to by crying stay here with us or 'mend my life'. We love them still but must be true to ourselves.
Journey is the truth offered in life's middle. We must go - alone - to the dark house of our fear, returning again and again until we see what we must do. Or so it seems. Passing houses warm and busy I wonder if only fools are required this pentence. Or if it is a choice, can the passage be as natural and effortless as breathing.