Oh do you have time
to linger
for just a little while
out of your busy

and very important day
for the goldfinches
that have gathered
in a field of thistles

for a musical battle,
to see who can sing
the highest note,
or the lowest,

or the most expressive of mirth,
or the most tender?
Their strong, blunt beaks
drink the air

as they strive
not for your sake
and not for mine

and not for the sake of winning
but for sheer delight and gratitude –
believe us, they say,
it is a serious thing

just to be alive
on this fresh morning
in the broken world.
I beg of you,

do not walk by
without pausing
to attend to this
rather ridiculous performance.

It could mean something.
It could mean everything.
It could be what Rilke meant, when he wrote:
You must change your life.

Mary Oliver’s poem Invitations will be one of my favorites. I love the specific storytelling poems she writes but occassionally she writes these “preachy” poems and one of them is this, Invitations. It is a poem about doing things for the sake of doing them—not doing them for others, not doing them for money, but doing them entirely for oneself and one’s own pleasure.

mary oliver thinks this is a principle of living—a full-blown strategy that could change lives. Whether or not one approaches life in this fashion determines the quality of his life. I share this belief with her, Charles Eisenstein, Lewis Hyde, and austin kleon.

Doing things for the sake of doing them, living in the gift, doing nothing, having full creative freedom, not thinking about pleasing people, or an audience, not showing oneself as an unchanging brand.

This view of life reminds us of the value of not having anything else other tha just being alive.

It is a serious thing just to be alive

When we strive for goals, we sometimes cloud and forget the immensity of this wonder: We are just alive! You need time to realize that. You need idleness to realize that. You don’t realize that in the middle of a corporate meeting! Pause. Realize that be grateful for being alive. Do nothing, do something with no benefit or reward.

This is why I believe in hobbies, in not selling ALL of your passions and idleness. We need these to be present to this one life.