Otherwise (by Jane Kenyon)

I got out of bed
on two strong legs.
It might have been
otherwise. I ate
cereal, sweet
milk, ripe, flawless
peach. It might
have been otherwise.
I took the dog uphill
to the birch wood.
All morning I did
the work I love.

At noon I lay down
with my mate. It might
have been otherwise.
We ate dinner together
at a table with silver
candlesticks. It might
have been otherwise.
I slept in a bed
in a room with paintings
on the walls, and
planned another day
just like this day.
But one day, I know,
it will be otherwise.

I love this poem becuase it helps me to get and hopefully keep perspective on my life and see each and every day as a gift.  It’s so easy to lose perspective, especially with the busyness of life and all the “have to’s”.  The “have to’s?”  Yes, you know what they are  – all those things that we have to do each and every day.  All the work, all the responsibilities, the tasks on the list to check off?  We, at times, might try to wish them all away, so we can get to the real life we want?

I came across a phrase that helped me to see right through all the “have to’s” and right into the beautifulness and gift of life.  The phrase is, “get to!”  I get to do all this stuff and someday I won’t get to do all that I now often take for granted.  Because as Jane Kenyon says in her poem – someday it will be otherwise.  There are lots of perspective changers in life aren’t there?  Things like aging and death or change of any kind seem to be especially high on the list.  Maybe it’s having had an aging parents and seeing all they have had to give up over the years that reminds us again to enjoy all our “get to’s” now.  But one of the greatest ways to keep my perspective will be with this word, “otherwise.”  (Perhaps that’s even shorthand for, “Teach us to number our days.” Psalm 90:12)

Here’s a wonderful quote that says it succinctly.

“Think of every single thing that we ‘have to’ do to get through a day as something that we ‘get to’ do… before our turn is over. Everything is a gift.”  


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