Eat Your (Best) Words
By Tracy Bleier
“Teach the children. We don’t matter so much, but the children do. Show them daisies and the pale hepatica. Teach them the taste of sassafras and wintergreen. The lives of the blue sailors, mallow, sunbursts, the moccasin flowers. And the frisky ones—inkberry, lamb’s-quarters, blueberries. And the aromatic ones—rosemary, oregano. Give them peppermint to put in their pockets as they go to school. Give them the fields and the woods and the possibility of the world salvaged from the lords of profit. Stand them in the stream, head them upstream, rejoice as they learn to love this green space they live in, its sticks and leaves and then the silent, beautiful blossoms.” Mary Oliver
Great words have always had a way of making me perk up, or think differently, or stop me in my tracks. Beautiful language can be like food—the right words heard at the right time can be a type of nourishment. I have always loved the fact that the word Bhakti in yoga has, at its root the word “buj” which means to feed or to nourish—so fitting for a practice that is solely devoted to chanting the many names of the Divine. Buddha himself reserved a whole tenet of his path to liberation for speech. He called it “wise speech,” and its practice depends upon a vigilant awareness of not only what we say, but how we say things. It also requires awareness of what we choose not to say.
Give them the fields and the woods and the possibility of the world…
Several months ago for my husband’s birthday I gave him the gift of a media-free month. I vowed to stay away from social media for four weeks, a habit that was becoming chronic and insidious. I replaced screen time with reading time. Phone checking for Monopoly. I had conversations that involved spoken sentences and hand gestures and pauses and silence. Real expression, not emojis. It took me maybe two days to realize fasting from my news feed was in many ways more of a gift for me. When I went back on social media, I did so sparingly, and I became more of a passerby and not a resident.
What replaced all that screen time was, well, time. Now, I am reading Mary Oliver’s collection of essays entitled Upstream. Even if you never walked the beaches of Provincetown, or wandered through the woods as a child, or spent enough time outside to name each patch of grass or species of tree or insect or bird or reptile or fish, after reading just one page, you will certainly wish you had. Those moments when I feel that nagging pull to grab my phone or get on with the business of my day, I stop and read and I feel as if I have just increased my chance of seeing more beauty in the world that day—and maybe even an opportunity to see more of the world period.
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