Friday, October 02, 2009

The Work that We Love

If I have a favorite poem, it is Jane Kenyon's "Otherwise". Go. Read it here. I'll wait.

Why do I love this poem? It's not complex, it's not full of clever word play or even richly descriptive sensory images. What it is, is elegant, wistful, beautiful.

I think of this poem from time to time when I'm doing the ordinary things in my life--walking the dog, baking bread, writing and I am grateful.

Yesterday I took my son to his clarinet lesson and sat downstairs while he worked with his teacher. I thought of "Otherwise." For this 45 minute time, my son and I were both doing the work that we loved; he in creating music, me in appreciating it and writing to it.

How fortunate we are.

How blessed.

I read "Otherwise" often. It is part of the way I remember to practice gratitude. It is all to easy to slip into whining and envy.

In the Yom Kippur service, there is a meditation that says:

Each person should carry two notes in his or her pockets. On one would be the words, "For my sake the world was created." On the other, "I am but dust and ashes."

It is our challenge to believe the first, so as not to fall into despair, and the second, to understand how ephemeral our lives and our worries are.

Find the way to do the work that you love. Know that someday it will be otherwise.

That is all. Class dismissed.


  1. I love this poem. Thank you for introducing it to me. I have tears in my eyes but it doesn't take much for tears to form in my eyes.

    As I approach my 69! birthday I do know it could be "otherwise!"

    I love you for all the things you are and bring to me....Linda

  2. Right back at you, Linda. How could I have asked for a better mother in law or grandmother to my children?


  3. I clicked on this exactly when I needed to. It seems lately I almost always think about otherwise, without taking the time to appreciate now. Thank you so much for this....Sue

  4. Thanks these words and introducing me to the concept...... "For my sake the world was created" .... "I am but dust and ashes." Guess we always know this, but rarely think of it.

  5. You are very welcome, Sue. I am glad that this moved you.

    Jim--we all need the reminders. It's too easy to get wrapped up in the things that don't matter. thanks for stopping by.