Sometimes in our lives we’re just cruising along living day-to-day, doing OK, enjoying our lives enough, overall fine but not filled with fire and enthusiasm over any of it, just kind of muddling along, unaware and unconscious and something happens that throws our life in front of us so we see it for what it is and we see our achievements for what they are and we feel knocked over with gratitude to the external factors that helped us along but also grateful — proud — of ourselves for what we’ve overcome and who we are. I know this is one of the purposes of events like graduations and maybe even weddings, but when it isn’t tied to any life-measuring moment or something it’s very special. Most of the time I think we humans think in terms of what we hoped to do and didn’t or couldn’t or gave up on, all that, so-called “failures.” For me, anyway, it’s not always easy to see where things are right because sometimes some of the most right things don’t fit the mold, the pattern, the expectations, but they are, for us completely and totally right.
I had such an experience yesterday. I won’t go into the details because HOW I got here doesn’t matter — I think it would be unique for everyone.
But wow. All day today I’ve thought of a couple of lines from Mary Oliver’s poem, “The Summer Day.” The poem doesn’t hit me, but the end does. I first read those lines as title of a book I judged for the contest, the memoir of a woman and her husband who’d built schools in Africa. The title of the book is My Wild and Precious Life. It’s a really good book and I recommend it. The poem ends with:
I do know how…to stroll through the fields
Which is what I have been doing all day.
Tell me, what else should I have done?
Doesn’t everything die at last, and too soon?
Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?
Suddenly, yesterday, it hit me that I couldn’t have done better given the hand I was dealt and the person that I am. I felt so much gratitude for the fates that landed me in that 3 bedroom tract house in Nebraska across from a forest from which I learned who my best friend through life would be. Yesterday I felt fully how much that has meant to me and how well it has served me, still serves me. As I composed that little poem in response to a small challenge, I realized that I have been writing one poem since my very first poem when I was 10. I’ve written other poems, but that has been my poem. Sometime when I’m not so lazy I’ll go find that first poem and transcribe it here. Maybe. 😉
So what will I do with my “one wild and precious life?” I’ll keep going on as I have been. ❤
Here’s Mary Oliver’s poem, “The Summer Day”.
Who made the world? Who made the swan, and the black bear? Who made the grasshopper? This grasshopper, I mean— the one who has flung herself out of the grass, the one who is eating sugar out of my hand, who is moving her jaws back and forth instead of up and down— who is gazing around with her enormous and complicated eyes. Now she lifts her pale forearms and thoroughly washes her face. Now she snaps her wings open, and floats away. I don't know exactly what a prayer is. I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down into the grass, how to kneel down in the grass, how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields, which is what I have been doing all day. Tell me, what else should I have done? Doesn't everything die at last, and too soon? Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?