Monday, January 28, 2013

With Your One Wild and Precious Life?

Jamie and I, and you can see the book right there.
I love poetry quite a lot. When I asked my fiancee, Jamie, to marry me I used a book of poetry to propose. I got an old copy of Poems by Robert Frost and I wrote her a note and a page number. When she turned to the page I had written the question, "Will you marry me?" there.

I have favorite poems like "If" by Rudyard Kipling, or Edmund Vance Cooke's "The Eternal Everyday", and I love Edgar Allen Poe, or anything Shakespeare. I just love poems. One that I've liked for a long time now is by Mary Oliver.

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?



It's a poem about the beauties of life. All of the paradoxes that exist in the graceful swan and the lumbering bear. What a beautiful world that allows such diversity! The precious metaphor of the grasshopper who stays a moment and flies away. It gives the imagery of a lazy summer day, and then ends with a reminder how life will end, even these summer days. We are left with a question, "Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?"

This is a question I ask myself a lot, especially in this time where I am trying to discover just what I want to do. This is one reason why I'm doing this trip, because it is something I desire to do with my one wild and precious life. I want to help people. I want to do something I love doing, like longboarding. 

We live in a culture where we love to tell each other to "go for your dreams", "reach for the stars". It is nice to pat each other on the back and say, "Yeah...go for it man." Its fun to say, but our culture only likes to say it, not to live it. It tells you to live for your dreams, but then tells you to wake up to reality.  Eventually we need to "grow up" right? 

We live in a culture that doesn't let people feel good about themselves. We're never skinny enough, never pretty enough, never wearing the right clothes, never eating the right food. One of the worst is that we have dreams about doing great things, like a good marriage or happy family, or helping other people. "That is not success or fulfillment," the world tells us, "What you need is money, this new car, or a nicer phone. A high paying job or promotion would make you happy. Marriage is a failed institution, not to mention constraining. Children whine and slobber. You can't make a living helping other people." 

Its hard to say with all of these influences shouting otherwise, but I don't believe those things. I really think that we can all go for our dreams and we'll be happier doing so. We have this time here on earth to be joyful.    However we don't have much time here in this life because, "Doesn't everything die at last, and too soon?" So why not go for what we love.

That's one thing I hope to do with this trip. I really hope to be able to help the Romanian children, I hope to have an adventure, and I really hope that it can inspire others to go for their own dreams. 


"Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?"




4 comments:

Brandon Bennett said...

This poem is the inspiration for a really amazing project at Harvard.

http://www.hbs.edu/PortraitProject/2012/CantrellMeredith.html

Mason said...

Oh those are really cool. I've never seen that. I really like that project.

Sheri said...

I plan to live a life filled with daily little acts of goodness that impact others and add up to a great work.

Sheri said...

I plan to live a life filled with daily little acts of goodness that impact others and add up to a great work.