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  • Kathy Marsak

Fours and Transforming Melancholy

I love this poem, “Morning Poem”, by Mary Oliver, who is an Enneagram Type One, because it speaks so clearly to something she understands deeply and that often shows up in her poems, the strong line between Type One and Type Four. (As a reminder, Type Four is the Stress Point for Type One, and – moving the other way – Type One is the Growth Point for Type Four). She inquires if it is our “nature to be happy” and “swim away along the soft trails for hours, your imagination alighting everywhere”, or rather does your spirit carry “within it the thorn that is heavier than lead” so “it’s all you can do to keep on trudging”.

Fours can tend toward melancholy (which is their Passion or Habit of Mind) and feeling like the world has abandoned them because they have lost touch with their deep and complete connection to all things (missing their Holy Idea of Source or Origin). The hard work for Fours is remembering that the wholeness and completeness they seek comes from the acceptance and appreciation of what is here and now in the present moment, in other words equanimity – the Virtue for a Four.


Of course, we all have “happy” days and “trudging” days. We all travel naturally between our Stress and Growth Points as we move through the world each day. What is your Stress Point? What is your Growth Point? One of the practices we can engage in when we have those “trudging” days and find ourselves at our Stress Point is cultivating the qualities at the higher levels of our Growth Point.


And Oliver reminds us all, “whether or not you have ever dared to be happy” and “whether or not you have ever dared to pray”, that “Every morning the world is created”. That is the high side of Type One: idealistic, inspiring, hopeful.











Every morning the world is created. Under the orange


sticks of the sun the heaped ashes of the night turn into leaves again


and fasten themselves to the high branches– and the ponds appear like black cloth on which are painted islands


of summer lilies. If it is your nature to be happy you will swim away along the soft trails


for hours, your imagination alighting everywhere. And if your spirit carries within it


the thorn that is heavier than lead– if it’s all you can do to keep on trudging–


there is still somewhere deep within you a beast shouting that the earth is exactly what it wanted–


each pond with its blazing lilies is a prayer heard and answered lavishly, every morning,


whether or not you have ever dared to be happy, whether or not you have ever dared to pray.


“Morning Poem”

by Mary Oliver

from Dream Work


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