Bubble Fatigue

America seems to play musical chairs in the summer. For Sale signs bloomed with the April flowers, and now the streets are packed with moving vans. Our move is only to a neighboring town, and I thought the local nature of the move would result in localized stress instead of long-distance anxiety. Hah!

Before I return to the world of bubble wrap, here are the five calming techniques that I reach for in moments of panic:

1) La Boheme
2) Deep, focused breathing
3) Chocolate
4) Prayer
5) Poetry

Favorite poems are part of my personal scriptures, with lines dancing into my head when I need them most. Today, it was this poem that surfaced, for whatever reason — and since my new home has a backyard, I’ll soon pay attention to the grasshopper. That’s the hope I’m holding on to, at least!

The Summer Day

Who made the world?
Who made the swan, and the black bear?
Who made the grasshopper?
This grasshopper, I mean–
the one who has flung herself out of the grass,
the one who is eating sugar out of my hand,
who is moving her jaws back and forth instead of up and down–
who is gazing around with her enormous and complicated eyes.
Now she lifts her pale forearms and thoroughly washes her face.
Now she snaps her wings open, and floats away.
I don’t know exactly what a 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 have been doing all day.
Tell me, what else should I have done?
Doesn’t everything die at last, and too soon?
Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?

Mary Oliver


Deborah is K-12 educator who nurtures a healthy interest in reading, writing, running, ethics, mystics, and interfaith dialogue.

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  1. AmyB says:

    Moving isn’t easy, even if it is just across town. While packing for my last move I developed severe joint pain that ended up being disabling for months. Moving is a major change- best wishes with yours.

    I loved that poem. I recently happened upon another poem that spoke to me. It might be fitting to share now:


    when it is all, finally,
    too much,
    I climb into my car,
    roll the windows up,
    and somewhere between
    backing out the driveway
    and rounding the first corner,
    I let out a yell
    that would topple Manhattan.
    How do you pray?

    –Margaret L. Mitchell

  2. Lynnette says:

    I love Mary Oliver! That’s a fabulous poem.

    Here’s one I like from Wendell Berry:

    The Peace of Wild Things

    When despair for the world grows in me
    and I wake in the night at the least sound
    in fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be,
    I go and lie down where the wood drake
    rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
    I come into the peace of wild things
    who do not tax their lives with forethought
    of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
    And I feel above me the day-blind stars
    waiting with their light. For a time
    I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.

    Good luck with the bubble wrap.

  3. Deborah says:

    Amy and Lynette:

    I just finished the kitchen (well, almost) and took a quick break to read your poems — and I feel tangibily calmer. Amy, I recognize myself in that poem and so would my bug (*sniff*). And Lynette, the lines

    I come into the peace of wild things
    who do not tax their lives with forethought
    of grief.

    remind me how much energy I waste worrying about what *might be.* At Amy’s suggestion, I’ve been reading _Living Buddha, Living Christ_; however much “live in the moment” has become a bastardized catch-phrase, there is something to it, to finding stillness even in chaos.

    Anyway, thanks. I needed this.

  4. Caroline says:

    I also love Mary Oliver!

    Since we’re sharing poems that make us feel good, here’s one of my favorites:

    God Says Yes To Me
    by Kaylin Haught

    I asked God if it was ok to be melodramatic
    and she said yes
    I asked her if it was ok to be short
    and she said it sure is
    I asked her if I could wear nail polish
    or not wear nail polish
    and she said honey
    she calls me that sometimes
    you can do just exactly
    what you want to
    Thanks God I said
    And is it ok if I don’t paragraph
    my letters
    Sweetcakes she said
    who knows where she picked that up
    what I’m telling you is
    Yes Yes Yes

  5. Tracy M says:

    That’s a wonderful poem I have never heard before- thanks for sharing, my day is richer now because of it.

  6. Brooke says:

    Thanks Deborah, and to all of you who have shared poems. I have been moved by all of them, but luckily do not have to move for another year at least! Living in student housing means my neighborhood is very transient and I have said goodbye each summer we’ve lived here at UCI–to so many great friends. And it only gets harder each year. I have seen the stress, helped fill and tape boxes, brought them dinners when their kitchens were packed away, and I wish I were there to help you too, Deborah. Good luck!

  7. Anonymous says:

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