Below is a short discussion inspired by Mary Oliver on this episode of On Being with Krista Tippett.
Struggle is a fact of life, and people find different ways of coping. For Mary Oliver, it was poetry. In an episode with On Being, she talks about her struggles growing up as a child and how her daily walks through the woods inspired her to write poems that mirror life.
From Mary’s experiences, we can learn that:
- Poetry can help us through our struggles. Poems have such a strong healing power that by writing and reading them, we can understand our own struggles.
- Writing in the first person is powerful. In writing poems, or any piece that reflects our experiences, using the “I” pronoun can help us connect with the reader. This connection can help them feel seen.
- Paying attention is important in the creative process. Focusing on our surroundings allows us to see it clearly and derive meaning from it. Mary’s attention to her surroundings led her to write profound poems.
- Creativity needs discipline. According to Mary, we are creative all the time. We can harness this creativity and develop our talents through discipline. We can start by making daily appointments to work on our talents.
Writing can be a form of healing. By writing about our experiences and putting a name to our emotions, we can have a better understanding of what happened to us. When we understand ourselves and what we’ve been through, we can begin to heal.
the distilld lessons
Here are the distilld lessons inspired by "Listening to the World" episode from the On Being podcast:
Growing up in a difficult home, multi-awarded poet Mary Oliver shares that she coped with the struggles of her childhood by writing poems.
With a notepad in hand, Mary would wander in the woods and observe her surroundings to describe later in her poems.
Mary’s walks were a major part of her creative process. Paying close attention to her surroundings led her to create profound poems.
Any creative process requires discipline. With so many things that can distract us, we need to actively be disciplined if we want to hone our creativity and talents.
Poetry can be a helpful tool in helping us heal from our struggles. Through poems, we can better understand and process what happened to us.
By reading poems that mirror our experiences, may it be good or bad, we realize that we are not alone in our journey.
By writing poems, we can convey our thoughts, feelings, and experiences in a medium that can reach other people. When that happens, we can inspire and give them comfort, especially those who are going through similar experiences.
Writing poems, or any piece of literature, in the first person can be more powerful than detaching ourselves from our work. Owning the thoughts, feelings, and experiences that we share can be more relatable to our readers.
When we write in a relatable way, we achieve an important purpose of writing: connecting with our readers.
- Reconnect more with nature. We never know what beauty we can witness when we commune with nature. There’s also a certain kind of healing we can only get by surrounding ourselves with nature.
- Expose yourself to poems. There’s such power in the beauty and vividness of poems. By reading them, you can expose yourself to the beautiful ways people share their experiences, thoughts and emotions. By writing them, you can process your own experiences in a gentle and personal way.
- Share inspiring poems. Whether it’s written by somebody or a personal composition, share inspiring poems with others. Allow people to learn the beauty and healing poems give.
- Be disciplined in what you do. With all the distractions available to us, it’s easy to get sidetracked. If you want to create and achieve, you need to maintain focus and self-discipline. Creating things of beauty requires concentration and persistence.
For a more in depth conversation, the distilld lessons (extended) are here.