“…Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?”
Years ago I heard this line in passing, but did not realize it was the last line of a poem, “The Summer Day,” by Mary Oliver. I found the poem this week and was once again struck by the phrase, “your one wild and precious life.”
As students we grappled with this question when we had to decide whether to take the academic or vocational track in high school. In college we looked at the question again when we had to declare a major. After college we encountered the question when we applied for jobs. Once in the workforce, I found myself asking this question when I became restless or dissatisfied with the work I was doing. And today, toward the end of my career, I find myself asking the question again: What will I do with this one wild and precious life?
Of course, this question leads to other questions:
- What kind of work do I still want to experience?
- What places do I still want to explore?
- How can I give more expression to my more creative aspects?
- How can I make a difference in my family and community?
- How can I squeeze the most enjoyment out of each and every day?
As we enter the Third Age of our lives, let us consider how to best use the time we have left and not squander this one wild and precious life.