“Tell me, what is it you plan to do
With your one wild and precious life?”
– Mary Oliver, The Summer Day
Mary Oliver’s quote was like a slap in the face – gentle, but insistent. It was the third time I’d seen that quote in the last two weeks. I wondered, “What’s going on here? What am I missing?”
Indeed, what may all of us be missing? I don’t believe in accidents or coincidence. So, what am I not paying attention to right now?
In his marvelous book The Power of Habit, Charles Duhigg writes about how habits are formed, and how, if we wish, we can break the ones that don’t serve us. Whether this is an affinity for Krispy Kreme donuts or negative habits of mine, a habit is simply a pattern that we live by.
When a pattern turns destructive, or it begins to cost us quality of life, then perhaps it’s time to challenge what we’re thinking, doing and saying.
Good habits, like choosing the yogurt over the donut, or choosing to give thanks for another beautiful day, serve us. They support our lives and speak to what’s possible, along with good body care and choices.
Being angry about what we can’t control – like plastic in the oceans off Bali or bad news from around the world – causes heartaches, headaches and undue stress.
Yet we can be in the habit of reading about these things every day. That kind of habit can cost us a lot. What habits may be costing you in health, friends or happiness?
In 1994, Microsoft launched an ad campaign with the tag line, “Where do you want to go today?” That line is in the ad Hall of Fame, and it still rings true. For anyone who has ever journeyed around the world by book, been lifted by a magical movie or who, like me, loves international travel, it speaks to the soul.
Each day, when we pull back the drapes to greet the world, that invitation is possible. How we behold the hours, how we embrace the possibility of that time, is up to us.
All too often it’s easy to find ourselves in a rut. Whether it’s work we don’t like or food that bores us, or watching too much television, habits form all too easily. The once-a-month visit to McDonald’s with the grandkids becomes a daily drive through with significant consequences to our health and waistlines.
Most of the time we’re unaware that we’re sliding into a habit, until it has become toxic. Maybe that one glass of wine at night has become four, and whatever health benefits we might have derived are now being drowned by too much alcohol.
When I read Mary’s words again this morning, I sat back in my chair and asked what I was missing. What chance I was sidestepping to change something important. Who did I need to reach out to today? What risk was I avoiding out of fear of failure?
By posing the question, I know I will get the answers. What I do know is that each hour that passes me by is gone forever, and how I choose to live that hour – with excitement, energy and grace – will either add value to my life and legacy or it won’t. Precious life.
I love living wildly by doing adventure travel all over the world. More so, I love this whole idea of recognizing the roller coaster and extraordinary gift of life itself as wild – here we are, with given time. What shall we do with it? What new experiences will we allow, invite, create for ourselves?
You have one “wild and precious life.” What will you do today that speaks to that brief and breathless gift? What habit might you step away from in order to have a richer, fuller life? What might you try today that scares you a bit?
What makes your life wild and precious? What was the great invitation of your life? Please share your insights. You never know whom you’ll inspire!