Dear Aiden,

In “Black Oaks,” Mary Oliver captures what it’s like to feel the tension between being a productive adult and the need to disconnect from our day-to-day responsibilities. I encourage you to make time to get outside and just sit with the trees, grass, and clouds, doing nothing.

Earning a living is important, but I spent a lot of time making it a central part of my life, time it didn’t deserve and seldom repaid. Employers demand loyalty but extend very little of the same to employees when it’s time to cut budgets. Don’t kill yourself with stress or exhaustion for people who will replace you any time it suits them. Find something you like doing, get someone to pay you to do it, but don’t sell your life to them.

Ad Astra,


Black Oaks

Okay, not one can write a symphony, or a dictionary,

or even a letter to an old friend, full of remembrance
and comfort.

Not one can manage a single sound though the blue jays
carp and whistle all day in the branches, without
the push of the wind.

But to tell the truth after a while I’m pale with longing
for their thick bodies ruckled with lichen

and you can’t keep me from the woods, from the tonnage

of their shoulders, and their shining green hair.

Today is a day like any other: twenty-four hours, a
little sunshine, a little rain.

Listen, says ambition, nervously shifting her weight from
one boot to another — why don’t you get going?

For there I am, in the mossy shadows, under the trees.

And to tell the truth I don’t want to let go of the wrists
of idleness, I don’t want to sell my life for money,

I don’t even want to come in out of the rain.

~ Mary Oliver

Leave a Reply