What will you do that is WILD AND PRECIOUS — and why we shouldn’t ask that.
What will you do with your one wild and precious life?
They ask of us with the last line from Mary Oliver’s poem, The Summer Day. Said as if trying to hold us up for examination. ‘As if we aren’t already doing’, we should reply. Is it not wild to go on, day after day, wading through the muck of everyday life? That is exactly where the wild and precious exist. In the daily struggle, feeling like you’re getting nowhere and yet choosing to go on. We don’t need to feel accountable to anyone, we don’t need to define a purpose, and we don’t need a life vision or plan. We don’t need to have been on a plane, become a parent, or write a book to be living magnificently. Living magnificently is done in the dirt of the daily grind. We are seedlings that spend a long time growing before we appear. And, a seedling appears out of the dirt. Life is hard and what is wild is that we go on living it.
There is nothing wrong with wanting to answer the question with bold accountability. It is wonderful to find and gather the inspiring motivators each of us enjoys. If you need bold accountability, have no shame, take it. Yet, the poem is quite the opposite of bold accountability. The poem muses about who made the world and who is this grasshopper as it observes the tiny movements a grasshopper makes. It resigns itself to wonder, to not knowing and the simplicity in daily life, asking what else could there be to life via way of asking you, what else should her day have involved?
The Summer Day sums up life. For you cannot find your unique answer to what makes a good life in a book, by visiting a physic or in a class or course. We find the answer on the path of daily life. Maybe, the better question isn’t what we will do with this lifetime, but rather, how will we return daily to living life for our self? How will we come back home within amongst the constant pull into other’s lives, other’s needs and their expectations? How can we come back to our life and live what we need, more than what we want? I want a peaceful, easy, relaxed life. Yet, this is contradictory to also wanting to be a writer that harnesses empathy, writes with depth, wisdom and connection. Such qualities rarely come from an easy, relaxed life. How do your wants and needs pull you apart?
The poem by Mary follows the reflective thought that life is beautiful in its simplicity, don’t you agree? Bold accountability in everyday living can miss the magnificence of the mess in daily life. It can avoid the magic of wonder that follows boredom, and discovers, after aimless searching the peacefulness in living the life that is. Living well is not something you can get right. You will never achieve it, succeed at it, or arrive at it.
‘What will you do with your one wild and precious life?’
Live it. Simply live it. For nothing greater can be done with a life.