is there room for you?

Marian ParsonsArtistic Endeavors47 Comments

“One tree is like another tree, but not too much.  One tulip is like the next, but not altogether.  More or less like people – a general outline, then stunning individual strokes…”

– Mary Oliver

I read this in a book of essays by Mary Oliver last evening and immediately had to put the book down and write my own response and thoughts before they were forgotten.

Yes, Mary!  This is the eloquent answer to a question that is posed to me so often by people who feel crowded out in a crowded online space.  The internet and more specifically blogs and social media offer an amazing place to share your work and to see the work of others.  The tradeoff is we’re also more acutely aware of what everyone else is doing.  So much so, that it leaves us feeling like we’re trying to push our way onto a stage that is already occupied by others who are captivating the full attention of the audience.    We feel like we’re trying to squeeze into a space on a fully stocked supermarket shelf.   There is a sense of scarcity.

So, we tuck away our ideas and dreams and keep them to ourselves, certain that no one will care.

Oh, but you are robbing others of the joys, intricacies and beautiful uniqueness of your stunning individual strokes.  You are only focusing on all of the similar outlines; the seemingly identical silhouettes.  You are not like all the others.  Not altogether.  Not too much.  And there is room for you.

Rather than the world being like one stage that can only be occupied by a finite amount of talent at one time, it is more like a flea market with an audience that is composed of individuals whose interests and delights are every bit as unique as they are.  One person might slow down at the booth that features old books with gilded pages and leather spines while another is captivated by hand tools wearing the warm patina that only time and contact with human hands can create.

We are not mass-produced products.  We are not factory finished.  And there is no true likeness to you and what you have to offer.

If you want to keep your work to yourself, keep it to yourself.  If you want to occupy your time with other pursuits, do that.

But don’t let the question of space stifle any dreams you have of sharing your stunning individualism with the world.

is there room for you?

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47 Comments on “is there room for you?”

  1. I keep seeing references to Mary Oliver, and seeing quotes by her lately–Seems I need to look that book up for myself too. Thank you for referencing it here today too. It’s so true.

    1. She has tons of books on poetry and essays. I had never heard of her, but happened to pick a book up off the shelf, flip through it, and I was hooked!

  2. I have read Mary Oliver for years and can recommend all of her poetry and prose. She was so in touch with the natural world and with the internal workings of the human spirit. And Marion how perfectly were you inspired by her quote to continue to inspire us. Thank you.

  3. Just the right words at the right time! Mary Oliver is now on my reading list too. Starting a blog and business feels so daunting sometimes, and partly for the reasons you mentioned. It feels like a big big world, the internet, and I sometimes wonder if I have a different voice, a new viewpoint to offer. Thank you, Marian, for sharing this today.

    1. Yes, of course! Just credit it to Mary Oliver. I wrote it out and took the photo of it, but the words are hers.

  4. I needed to hear this. These thoughts appear often with regard to my Etsy shop and I often think of giving up due to all the competition. Thank you!

  5. Your message is beautiful. I’m so glad you were obedient to your inner spirit and stopped to share it. This is my first introduction to Mary Oliver and it’s a quote that is going up on my board in my office. Thank you!

  6. This is what my heart needed to hear… again! Just this morning, I was telling two close friends, I don’t want to waste any more time comparing. My friend had said, “comparison is like mold.” That hit home so much and with this quote from Mary Oliver and your amazing thoughts, I feel more inspired than ever to put myself out there for who I am. Me.

  7. Wonderfully said. We each come with our unique talents and when used help others develop their talents more fully or…just sit back and enjoy the talents of others that enrich our lives, just by them being them.

  8. I so needed to read this today! Venturing out into the big world of makers online is a struggle in itself, and trying to show your individual point of view is even tougher. 🥰

  9. Marian, you can Google Mary’s poem “Wild Geese”. It is my favorite of hers and quoted often. The world lost a special soul when she passed away. Thanks for sharing her with your audience.

  10. Marian,
    Read her poem titled The Journey. I taught this poem every year in my senior Lit. class. Profound and meaningful discussions emerged. This poem saved my life. As always, your photos are beautiful!

  11. Thanks so much Marion. You and Donna from Funky Junk are my two most favorite persons to follow. You are so right because you both are so unique and inspiring. I hope that someday I too will be able to inspire someone just being uniquely me.

  12. Marian,
    I am for the first time, putting my work out there for the public to see. I wanted to bring joy and I wasn’t ready for the negative comments but you know what? I don’t let that worry me, I just keep doing what I enjoy and even if only a couple others enjoy it- that is good enough for me. I am not in it to make money, I am in it to use the creativity God blessed me with.
    Small things are sometimes the biggest reward and biggest blessing. My 6 year old grandson wanted to participate in the public library bicycle rodeo. His bicycle is kept at my house where there is plenty of safe space for him to ride. He asked me to decorate it for the rodeo. His mom sent me a pic of him winning second place for best decorated bike. His smile was so big and he enjoyed himself so much. What a blessing to me to play a small part in a really good summer day for my grandson. Those are the things that matter most in life and help put the rest into perspective.

  13. Such wisdom. God has created us each individually, with a specific talents and gifts to share. He is not a God of scarcity, but a God of abundance. Your thoughts line up perfectly. Thank you for the timely encouragement.

  14. You would really enjoy listening to “On Being” podcast where Krista Tippet interviews Mary Oliver. It is wonderful!

  15. Oh how I love this post! Said so beautifully what I have felt for years. With so much ‘competition’ out there, when it comes right down to it, we ALL have something unique to offer. There IS room for everyone!

    Think of making fried chicken: Your grandmother/mother/aunt made the BEST fried chicken and shared her recipe with you but when you make it, it is not the same. It really is the same with painting furniture. One can follow the directions of another painter but now two will be exactly alike.

  16. What is the name of the book by Mary Oliver? I looked online and she has written more than one book of essays- the verse you used spoke to me and I would like to purchase that book, thank you

  17. I appreciate this as a parent of a middle schooler. Finding your space as an adolescent can be hard, and feeling comfortable as an individual can be even harder. Thank you for giving me beautiful language & sentiments to share with my daughter.

  18. “Oh, but you are robbing others of the joys, intricacies and beautiful uniqueness of your stunning individual strokes. …”

    I got a fortune cookie with my lunch today, the fortune inside said, simply, “Share joy.” I thought “okayyyyy ….” Mary Oliver’s words are, in part, what the fortune meant. Your blog, and a couple others I read and like, are another part of what the fortune meant. I love your blog, and get a lot of JOY out of reading it and seeing your beautiful projects and photos, and following your many successes. I feel my pride for you in my heart, it’s such a joyful pride! So thank you for sharing, and for the others reading here who are hesitant? Just do it … share your joy!

  19. I loved this…thank you for sharing the opening words and your thoughts. We all have gifts and some gifts are yet to be discovered. It isn’t until we start trying new things, learning from/through others and sharing that we begin to discover them.

  20. Being dragged to antique markets can be a drag when everyone knows your job is to make sure her purchases are strapped down tight in the pickup, covered so the don’t get wet on the way back to the shop and make sure all the trash gets to the dumpster.

    But when you stumble across a bowl full of hand engravers, obviously well worn in the handle but sharp as ever at the cutting tips, and your passion is engraving the décor, names and dates of your hand made rifles, suddenly it’s not such a boring day at the market.

    There probably haven’t been three people in 10 years interested in those classic tools, but they were essential pieces of history to me, and just imagining the use to which they’d been put in the past was enough to inspire.

    I’m glad,… very glad that the man who didn’t use them any more (couldn’t use them any more?) didn’t just dump them in the trash. Nobody engraves rifles today. Nobody even builds rifles today, he might think. But I do, and finding them, getting them, and using them, has been a great blessing to me.

    Like my baby girl is trying to say, bless someone else with what you have, even if you don’t think it’s a blessing.

  21. Thank you so much. As I continue to work and dream of launching a blog, that old “why would anyone want to read your blog when there are SO MANY great ones?” doubt keeps me from pushing the publish button. You have inspired me today to get it done.

  22. Wow Marian!! I need it to read something like this and coming from you it’s even more powerful.
    Thank you for sharing.

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