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Wild and Precious Day

May 16, 2021
by Mark David Siegel

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 in the grass,

how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields

which is what I have been doing all day.

-Mary Oliver

Hi everyone,

I’m on self-imposed exile, sort of. “Self-imposed” isn’t quite right, because Heide reserved this Victorian apartment in Bar Harbor and virtually handed me the keys. “Exile” isn’t quite right either; I still have a cell phone and I’m not really detached from certain urgencies, like next year’s schedule and this year’s graduation.

But it’s a good time to be away. COVID is fading, finally. The end of the academic year is here and you’ve mastered your jobs. We just got reassuring news from the ACGME: 96% of you are pleased with the residency, which far exceeds the national mean. We’re doing something right.

A two-week triennial is too short to accomplish all that I wanted to accomplish before COVID barged in. There will be no book to write or curriculum to create. But I’m making the most of it: lingering in bed as the morning sun floods the room; long meanderings by the water; extended dinners of Heide’s peanut stew; hours of hiking and biking and thinking; two books to read, The Sympathizer and Liberty’s Exiles; and, most ambitiously, time away from emails, texts, and phone calls.

I’m not oblivious to the real world- the mayhem in the Middle East, the premature lifting of mask mandates, the fragility of our democracy. But we miss so much amidst the daily barrage of appointments, mandates, obligations, and worries.

Yesterday, I rested on a bench, perched above the harbor, coffee gone, a 20-mile bike ride complete, flags fluttering on the dock, vacationers napping in the grass, toddlers slurping ice cream, gulls circling in a low arc, trees blooming, a book begging to be read, the sun exiting stage left. Suddenly, the world was more focused, more comprehensible, more manageable. I saw the grass, the trees, the boats, and the harbor; I heard the giggles and the idle conversations; I felt the gentle, pungent breeze blowing off the water.

How many other spring days had I thoughtlessly, heedlessly, tragically overlooked? It was time to get away. I’ll be a better program director when I get back.

Enjoy your wild and precious Sunday, everyone. I’m heading off to another trail.


Pictures from Acadia and Bar Harbor:

Submitted by Mark David Siegel on May 16, 2021