What are you going to do with your one wild and precious life?

‘What are you going to do with your one wild and precious life?’

I love that quote which comes at the end of Mary Oliver’s poem The Summer Day (you can find the whole poem here).

Mary Oliver was not the first spiritual poet I encountered. But my first memory of her poetry and this line in particular goes back to my time at Loyola Hall in 2003. I’m sure we were given a ‘Loyola Hall Prayer Sheet’ which contained this quote during the first few days I was there (before I had even thought that I might like a job there!)

It is interesting to read the same words in a different phase of life. Those same words have a different flavour now at 40 than did when I first encountered them at 27. My wild and precious life was all potential at 27, where at 40 tiny crystals have started to form.

(As a synthetic chemist I have come to develop tremendous respect for the patience and art that is involved in growing a beautiful, single crystal. Analytically the ‘single’ part is very important! It takes a great deal of trial and error and some luck along the way.)

It is fascinating to recognise that what is ‘wild’ and what is ‘precious’ are not quite the same now as they were thirteen years ago.

Perhaps what is most intriguing as I re-enter my own life is the discovery that I am no longer the whipper-snapper trying to establish myself. No one questions my right to have a say.

‘What are you going to do with your one wild and precious life?’

It’s no longer about pure potential – it is about my reach from the platform I have built for myself with the support of those who have believed in me.


2 thoughts on “What are you going to do with your one wild and precious life?

  1. As usual, Mags, you have provided lots of food for thought. Not a day goes by that I don’t thank God for what God has done with my one wild and precious life – it seems that from what I thought was a very broken life, God has given me an incredible opportunity to live in a way that I never thought would be possible. Thanks be to God!

  2. …And from the perspective of one who just turned 70: on looking back, my best spent times, were 20% wild and 20% precious…. the other 60% were not wasted, but not empowering, either. In the final years of my life, I choose to make my time 50% wild and 50% precious, and 100% useful in God’s plan for me. And by the way, my favorite poem is “At the River Clarion” by Mary Oliver. Peace and Love, Mags; you continue to inspire from afar.

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