A Wild and Precious Life

“Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life.
Instructions for living a life: Pay attention. Be astonished. Tell about it.”
Mary Oliver (d.2019)

Mary Oliver (d. 1/16/2019), American poet and author of “A Thousand Mornings”

For those in the trenches of caregiving, the unrelenting rhythms of washing, dressing, feeding, waiting, listening, and redirecting can be overwhelming at times. Love keeps us moving forward, even when we would much rather skip town and, say, run to Vegas. But we are like the anchors in a luxury marina: Above the surface of the water, all is bustling activity and bubbly champagne. Or so it seems from our perspective, sunk deep in the mud, tied to a rope that keeps everything securely in place.

At some point, we have to ask ourselves: What am I doing with my one, “wild and precious life”? At the end of it, will I be content with the sum total of what I’ve done? Will my family remember me as someone who gave them joy — or a beleaguered hag who never laughed, never dreamed, and only grudgingly carved out time for the people who were supposed to matter most?

And if I’m not happy with the answer, what am I going to do to change it?