I was just talking to my teenage boy/young man today about his amount of screen time. He tells me, “Mom, it’s not that bad.” I am quiet for a while, trying to focus a clear thought that doesn’t sound like scolding and immediately shut him down. I drive down the country road to his school remembering being young and walking back to my Dad’s farm house - up the hill that was covered in narcissus and every imaginable variety of tiny daffodil, feeling the sun on my back and the wet dew soak through the bottom of my pants. Hunting for yabbies (a fresh water shrimp thing) in our creek. Weaving wreaths of fresh lavender with the smell of the hot wood and lavender mingling into the sweetest scent. The sounds of bees filling my ears. And I say something about not wanting him to miss out on the beauty of being outdoors. Of laying in the grass or fishing. Or watching bugs. I get home from dropping him off at school and find out Mary Oliver has died. How many times have I uttered her words to myself and to my kids. We get one life. One chance to be spellbound by nature. One life to feel the sun and the rain. One life to observe the mystical wonder this world has to offer. What are you going to do with your one life?
“Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?”
Thank you, Mary Oliver, for putting into words so succinctly the transient and mystical essence of life.
Mary Oliver September 10, 1935 – January 17, 2019
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 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?
- Mary Oliver