Other Writings

So many coats – Mary Oliver

Quotes from Mary Oliver’s book “Upstream” about the importance of where we place our attention.


With growth into adulthood, responsibilities claimed me, so many heavy coats. I didn’t choose them, I don’t fault them, but it took time to reject them.

— Mary Oliver, Upstream

We’ve talked a lot about distraction from “the main thing”:

Sometimes, in my desire to throw off the distractions, I’m tempted to throw off too much. There are responsibilities that come with our callings. They sometimes feel like heavy coats, too many of them; I often long to be free of them, not realizing they are part of my very being, my health, my fulfillment.

I love how Mary Oliver shares her experience of throwing off the responsibilities that are distractions from “eternity”; I’m also impressed with the responsibilities she keeps tightly buttoned around her so she can be true to her calling to write.

Which heavy coats do we keep and which do we reject? Do you sometimes get confused (and even overwhelmed) sorting out the answer, like I do?



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