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Happiness Is a Hard and Joyous Path

When Mary Oliver wrote this lovely poem, she was 60-plus. This year she is turning 83. But given what she’s been writing of late, I’m pretty sure she still has days when she feels she has wings.

At age 79, I’m always looking for people who model what it means to age with good humor, wisdom, and grace. I love this poem because it offers some guidance on that question.

I’m reminded of G.K. Chesterton’s oft-quoted saying:

“Angels can fly because they take themselves lightly.”

On days when I feel like the archetypal Grumpy Old Man, I try to remember to flap my arms and say, “Lighten up, pal!”

Arm-flapping and talking to myself in the middle of a mall often draw alarmed glances my way. But, hey, a man’s gotta do what a man’s gotta do!

This poem is from Mary Oliver’s collection, Evidence.

by Mary Oliver

Everyone should be born into this world happy
and loving everything.
But in truth it rarely works that way.
For myself, I have spent my life clamoring toward it.
Halleluiah, anyway I’m not where I started!

(Excerpted from Evidence. Read the full poem here.)

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