This life

It’s a blustery, freezing evening tonight. The semi-icy rain pelts the side of our house; I snuggle more deeply into my down blanket; my tea on the windowsill fogs the glass above. I turn the page of my book, and I come across this lovely gem from Mary Oliver, one of my favorite authors ever:

That’s the big question, the one the world throws at you every morning. “Here you are, alive. Would you like to make a comment?”


Here I am, alive indeed, and I would like to make a comment. Aliveness every morning is such a precious gift, after all — and for what?


Perhaps to celebrate something like the hummingbird panting on the ground outside my dentist’s office, shimmery green and red, barely clinging to life when I went in and dead when I came out, the still-brilliant hummingbird I put in my hand and moved to the base of the tree so it could in death touch nature instead of concrete.

Perhaps it’s to celebrate the total stranger who told me I had a great smile and made my morning, to celebrate all the random, undeserved, and unsolicited instances of kindness that make a normal life sparkle.

Perhaps it’s for the feeling of flying through the city on a bicycle, for the ruddy cheeks and frozen fingers and bright eyes and feeling of being wholly, truly alive at my destination. For the capacity to move alertly in the world rather than simply over its surface.

Aliveness? It’s not for things like Black Friday sales or new phones or funky gadgets. It is for people, and love, and experience, and it’s amazing.

“What does it mean,” continues Mary Oliver, “that the earth is so beautiful? And what shall I do about it? What is the gift that I should bring to the world? What is the life that I should live?”

What is that life? I’m sure it looks different for you than it does for me, but don’t you think it’s worth thinking about?



  1. Wonderful thoughts beautifully written. Thank you Stasia :)

  2. Stasia, thank you for your thoughts and your question (and Mary Oliver’s questions). We should try to move through life, feel ourselves in it, not just skimming from appointment to meeting to class. We also see life in the eyes of our children, in the times we are with those we love most. The steam from my coffee rises beside me, and though there is no ice on my windows, the sun feels cool today.

  3. I’ve certainly been thinking a lot about these kinds of questions recently, and I quite like how you’ve framed it here. I might pick up a copy of Long Life.

    • Oh my gosh. It’s such a good book. It’s set up as a bunch of short essays plus some poems and I end up reading most everything at least twice, just because I want to remember and linger and savor. Maybe it’s just the mood I’m in right now, but I love love love this book.

      Ellie I think would really like it:)

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