Nurse Wisdom from the ICU at OHSU (4.27.19)
“Unrealistic expectations lead to disappointment. You measure a good day in the ICU through a very different lens. A good day is measured in bowel movements and urine output. A good day is measured by steady heart rhythms and uneventful nights. Imagine a world if we celebrated with each other every bowel movement. Who knows? We might be happier. It’s the little things.”
Mary Oliver asks in her poem Summer Day, “What is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?” At first glance, this question invites us to try harder and reach further. Mary Oliver answers her own question in the poem inviting us to stroll idly through the fields noticing things. She writes, “I don’t know exactly what prayer is. I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down into the grass, how to kneel down in the grass, how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields, which is what I’ve been doing all day. Tell me, what else should I have done? Doesn’t everything die at last and too soon?”
We measure our worth and gauge the meaning of our lives based on productivity. Life is best lived in moments. What if the goal isn’t what we have accomplished by the end of the day but what we have noticed? What if the goal isn’t to achieve but to be awake? What would change in our spiritual lives if we understood to be spiritual is to live life in radical amazement and take nothing for granted?
I was listening to a podcast by an expert who helps people maximize their potential. I was exhausted just listening. I don’t need someone to help me achieve more and maximize my potential. I need someone to help me maximize my ability to pay attention, take myself less seriously, play more and celebrate the little things.
Mary Oliver wrote, “Instructions for living a life. Pay attention. Be astonished. Tell about it.”
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