Something I picked up from Martin Marty's Context. Marty discovered it in an essay in Search, by Stephen Prothero, who teaches a course at Boston University called "Death and Immortality," in which he challenges his students to think about their own mortality and thereby enjoy, more greatly, life itself.
A prose poem by Mary Oliver.
"You are young. So you know everything. You leap into the boat and begin rowing. But listen to me. Without fanfare, without embarrassment, without any doubt, I talk directly to your soul. Listen to me. Lift the oars from the water, let your arms rest, and your heart, and heart’s little intelligence, and listen to me. There is life without love. It is not worth a bent penny, or a scuffed shoe. It is not worth the body of a dead dog nine days unburied. When you hear, a mile away and still out of sight, the churn of the water as it begins to swirl and roil, fretting around the sharp rocks-when you hear that unmistakable pounding--when you feel the mist on your mouth and sense ahead the battlement, the long falls plunging and steaming--then row, row for your life toward it."
Someone once told me that when age begins to erect its boundries around and in us, we'll regret less of what we shouldn't have done and did, than what we didn't do and might have.
Sometimes I wonder if I didn't paddle hard enough myself.