We are reconciled, I think,
to too much.
Better to be a bird, like this one-
An ornament of the eternal.
As he came down once, to the nest of the grass,
“Squander the day, but save the soul,”
I heard him say.
– Mary Oliver, The Lark
We become especially adept at committing ourselves to activities with the least return on our time invested. What is an unproductive meeting but an agreement between two parties to squander time? As if we had the time to spend.
This challenge by Mary Oliver, declaring that we reconcile to too much in our days, pokes deeply at that inner doubt we might have about how we’re spending our time. That (now) she’s challenging us from the grave amplifies the message. Jealously guard your time for that which is most important. Squander the day, if you must, but save your soul!
We take stock of our calendars and see a growing trend back to the office, back to travel and meetings and getting things done. Some excites us, and some is a reconciliation to the mission at hand. This is the life of a professional, we do what we must to get where we want to be in our careers.
But what if we saved our soul instead?