Mindful Mondays: Taylor Mali

Each Monday, I would like to share a reminder about the importance of being mindful.  These will come from literature, popular culture, music--anywhere one might get this sort of everyday life nudge.

Consider this fair warning: Valentine's Day is Friday.  For some, it will be a day of chocolates and flowers or other, special treats, for others of us it is just another day.  My husband will be working, so I plan to do homework and hang with the dogs--actually a pretty great little Friday.

Just as the first poem I shared with you, "maggie and millie and molly and may," this is one I used to teach in my English 11 class.  I cherish the poem, adore the poet, and love to see students interact with modern poetry.  I can't think of many better feelings than seeing someone think, reflect, and change their mind right in front of you.  I've been changing people's minds about poetry and whether it's something they can "get into" for years and my hope is that through these Mindful Mondays, you, too, will see the beauty of poetry and language.

This poem is entitled "How Falling In Love Is Like Owning a Dog."  It is by a talented and passionate former teacher, current poet named Taylor Mali.  If you like this one, he's got others on his website.  He also has a fabulous voice, so feel free to check him out on YouTube or purchase his cd.

How Falling in Love is like Owning a Dog
by Taylor Mali

First of all, it’s a big responsibility,
especially in a city like New York.
So think long and hard before deciding on love.
On the other hand, love gives you a sense of security:
when you’re walking down the street late at night
and you have a leash on love
ain’t no one going to mess with you.
Because crooks and muggers think love is unpredictable.
Who knows what love could do in its own defense?

On cold winter nights, love is warm.
It lies between you and lives and breathes
and makes funny noises.
Love wakes you up all hours of the night with its needs.
It needs to be fed so it will grow and stay healthy.

Love doesn’t like being left alone for long.
But come home and love is always happy to see you.
It may break a few things accidentally in its passion for life,
but you can never be mad at love for long.

Is love good all the time? No! No!
Love can be bad. Bad, love, bad! Very bad love.

Love makes messes.
Love leaves you little surprises all over the apartment.
Love needs lots of cleaning up after.
Sometimes (God help you) you just want to get love fixed.
Sometimes you want to roll up a piece of newspaper
and swat love on the nose,
not so much to cause pain,
just to let love know Don’t you ever do that to me again!

Sometimes love just wants to go out for a nice long walk.
Because love loves exercise. It will run you around the block
and leave you panting, breathless. Pull you in different directions
at once, or wind itself around and around you
until you’re all wound up and you cannot move.

But love makes you meet people wherever you go.
People who have nothing in common but love
stop and talk to each other on the street.

Throw things away and love will bring them back,
again, and again, and again.
But most of all, love needs love, lots of it.
And in return, love loves you and never stops.

Mali. Taylor. “How Falling in Love is like Owning a Dog.” What Learning Leaves. Newtown, CT: Hanover Press, 2002. Print.

I think the connection to mindfulness is obvious, but just in case, the poem reminds us to appreciate the love we have exactly as it is.  Just like the pets, or children, or students, or neighbors, or family members in our lives, we get it all--the good and the bad.  Mali emphasizes the importance of accepting this and placing our effort into love.  And I can't think of a better way to celebrate a Monday.

Photo from: taylormali.com