“Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?” – From the poem ‘The Summer Day,’ by Mary Oliver
This beautiful Mary Oliver quote gets a lot of airtime on the Insta poetry meme circuit. And it should, it’s a big, brilliant, beautiful quandary summed up into 15 little words.
But it overwhelms me.
I’ve had many lives, so far, and I’m still not sure what I did with any of them.
The Single Life – Filled with long nights, and restless days. A life brimming with self doubt and insecurity, but also a freedom that could not be ignored. Anything possible at any moment, although many moments wasted – or rather, spent – in youthful ennui.
The Early Menopause Life –This one involved A LOT more reading. I learned about all the weirdness that happens inside of a young body when it decides that it’s time to shut down the whole baby-making apparatus. I tried hormone replacements, and experienced insane side effects. I tried no hormones and worried myself to death that I maybe I should be on hormones. This life involved a lot of body examination, and really coming to terms with all the quirks. Not for the faint of heart.
And finally, The Living-With-It Life – And what is there to say, really? That’s just what you do. Live with it. I watch my friends and family tick the time away by crushing life’s milestones.
First steps, first birthdays.
School and summer vacations.
Every moment of the year, season, future, accounted for. Although, I know that their lives are unpredictable, there is a framework for them – the familied, the parentals. It’s a frame that doesn’t fit around my amorphous childless/free life.
There’s no roadmap for un-married, childless/free women. Just a long stretch of highway.
I’ve wasted a lot of energy fretting over my poor usage of all the free time. Afraid that I’m letting the moments slip away, unnoticed. Lots of TV watched. So much social media scrolled. Long, aimless walks. Naps. (A lot of naps.)
But at the end of all of it, there is a relentless freedom. One that pulls me toward my passions, and creates space for my loved ones. I can be counted on to be present. Because where else am I gonna be?
So what do I want to do with my ONE wild and precious life? I dunno.
There’s another quote from that beautiful poem that resonates so much deeper for me:
“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? “
Illustration by: Lizzie – www.lizzyartworkshop.com