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Mary Oliver, One Wild and Precious Life

When we are in nature, we may or may not “be there”. 1) Pay attention 2) Be astonished 3)Tell about it

“Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?” Summer Day, by Mary Oliver

Mary Oliver was someone who was very tuned in to her system and to the natural world. Many of her poems are about being present in nature and with wildlife. Her poems are rich in details like having a drink out of this one pond every day and she can kind of taste the moss and the ducks feet.

When we are in nature, we may or may not “be there”. Even in a beautiful forest or at the ocean, our mind can be anywhere. Poets like Mary Oliver remind us to pay attention, to be present with ourselves and to notice our body and thoughts in our mind. 

A quote like this can bring a flurry of activity and often regret. I grieve the loss of aliveness in the years when I was really numb and checked out. Dissociation is a common trauma response. We are not fully here. We are living a half life and then we read her poem. There is a poignancy and sadness. This is our life. The frozen times, the anxious times, the days and months lost to compulsive thinking. 

Part of what we do in this one wild and precious life is heal trauma. Our own and up and down through generations. We are becoming known to ourselves. This is not a Disney movie. It is not three easy steps and we are healed. Human life is messy and difficult. We have primitive nervous systems that think we are still under siege long after the danger is past. It takes time to heal and it is possible. 

Notice your whole body and allow yourself to soften and breathe. Feel what it is to be present to your own experience. We feel in our body through sensations, feelings and energy. We witness thoughts.

What are you doing with your one wild and precious life?

Mary Oliver wrote so often about water and ponds. Stillness. Let those words be like a ripple on a pond. 

What excites you about the rest of your wild and precious life? What would you love to do? Bring it to mind vividly. If there were no obstacles, what would your life be? Try not to to overthink it. What does your heart know?

This is not a disembodied inquiry. We are right here in our own life, our own body, our own heart. We are bringing to light what we yearn for. No matter what our age, we are alive in this moment. We still have this one wild and precious life. 

If the practical part of your mind is raising objections, ask it to stop for now. Let the heart resonate with the quote. Breathe life into this one wild and precious life with your attention and your heart. How does that feel in your whole body as you open to possibilities? How would you engage with the world? What are your passions? 

Mary Oliver’s body no longer contains her spirit but ours do. Set your intention to stay attuned to your hearts desire.

(24 min)
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