Words of WonderThe-Word-Tony-Hoagland

Down near the bottom
of the crossed-out list
of things you have to do today,

between “green thread”
and “broccoli” you find
that you have penciled “sunlight.”

Resting on the page, the word
is as beautiful, it touches you
as if you had a friend

and sunlight were a present
he had sent you from some place distant
as this morning—to cheer you up,

and to remind you that,
among your duties, pleasure
is a thing,

that also needs accomplishing
Do you remember?
that time and light are kinds

of love, and love
is no less practical
than a coffee grinder

or a safe spare tire?
Tomorrow you may be utterly
without a clue

but today you get a telegram,
from the heart in exile
proclaiming that the kingdom

still exists,
the king and queen alive,
still speaking to their children,

—to any one among them
who can find the time,
to sit out in the sun and listen.

by Tony Hoagland


Who can find the time to sit out in the sun and listen? Can you? Can I? Do I remember often enough that ‘among my duties, pleasure is a thing, that also needs accomplishing’? Often I find myself with the sense of not enough time, with a to-do list that is longer than the hours I’d like to (or feel I have to!) accomplish it in. In fact, there are days when time feels like the biggest gift, the most precious luxury.

But is it really time I feel a lack of – or is it attention? The sunlight is there whether I remember or not, but it’s the remembering that makes the difference. For I also know the experience of a full busy day which is somehow spaciously full, where I remember to look up and out, and in – connected to the bigger picture even while also being present with this spreadsheet, that pile of laundry.

So maybe, inspired by this poem, I’ll take a leaf out of the poet Tony Hoagland’s book, and write the remembering into my list!


Photo by Kylie Paz on Unsplash

PS If you’re feeling a bit (or even a lot) overwhelmed and stressed out, there’s a weekend in December on Mindfulness and Stress which explores basic mindfulness tools to deal with that stress differently…