What is the steel of your will?

Early in my life I determined not to teach because I like teaching very much. I thought if I was going to be a *real *poet – that is, write the best poetry I possibly could – I would have to guard my time and energy for its production, and thus I should not, as a daily occupation, do anything else that was interesting. Of necessity I worked for many years at many occupations. None of them, in keeping with my promise, was interesting.

Among the things I learn in those years were two of special interest to poets. First, that one can rise early in the morning and have time to write (or, even, to take a walk and then write) before the world’s work schedule begins. Also, that one can live simply and honorably on just about enough money to keep a chicken alive. And do so cheerfully.

This I have always known – that if I did not live my life immersed in the one activity which suits me, and which also, to tell the truth, keeps me utterly happy and intrigued, I would come someday to bitter and mortal regret.

Mary Oliver, A Poetry Handbook