TRAVELS WITH NINA

is the online portfolio and journal of Australian travel writer Nina Karnikowski.

SAVOURING

Gosh its been a while since I’ve posted here, hasn’t it? My only excuse is that I’ve been on the road a lot, and am only just now sinking back into life on the farm. It’s the first days of winter and already I’m feeling the urge to nest, to get grounded, to go within.

I wanted to share a poem I came across this morning, by my favourite poet Mary Oliver, as I listened to a Tara Brach podcast about fostering happiness. In it, Brach talks about three elements that help cultivate what she calls the ‘intentional gladdening of the heart’: gratitude for what you have, serving others, and savouring all those little moments that make up the greater whole of our life.


RECKLESS

Today again I am hardly myself.
It happens over and over.
It is heaven-sent.

It flows through me
like the blue wave.
Green leaves – you may believe this or not –
have once or twice
emerged from the tips of my fingers

somewhere
deep in the woods
in the reckless seizure of spring.

Though, of course, I also know that other song,
the sweet passion of one-ness.

Just yesterday I watched an ant crossing a path, through the tumbled pine needles she toiled.
And I thought: she will never live another life but this one.
And I thought: if she lives her life with all her strength
is she not wonderful and wise?
And I continued this up the miraculous pyramid of everything
until I came to myself.

And still, even in these northern woods, on these hills of sand,
I have flown from the other window of myself
to become white heron, blue whale,
red fox, hedgehog.
Oh, sometimes already my body has felt like the body of a flower!
Sometimes already my heart is a red parrot, perched
among strange, dark trees, flapping and screaming.

— Mary Oliver


I love that line, ‘if she lives her life with all her strength, is she not wonderful and wise?‘ Because it’s really the most profound wisdom that allows us to live in that present moment, and to appreciate those mundane moments in our lives. Moments like taking a morning walk. Like washing the dishes. Like brushing our teeth.

We can get so caught up in rushing through these moments, in trying to block out the tedium of them in order to get to the things we believe are really worthwhile: work, socialising, being online, being productive. But at the end of our days it’s that presence in the moment, that being there as a witness to each and every one of our meaningless, beautiful actions, that will make our existence worthwhile.