My One Wild and Precious Life

“That’s wild.”

This phrase has been added to Urban Dictionary and is defined as: “another way of saying ‘that’s crazy’, but with more emphasis.”

Sitting in the coffee shop trying to write about wild in my life, through my perspective, the famous phrase—”one wild and mrmrmememr life”—digs through my brain.

I google the phrase and up pops Mary Oliver’s poem, “The Summer Day.”

I don’t believe I’ve ever read this poem in its entiriety. The last line is famous—”Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?” And I never knew it stemmed from a day spent with a grasshopper, strolling through fields.

I took the above selfie on a bright, sunny morning in Boise, Idaho last June. This was mine and Ant’s second stint on the road trip. We’d just spent the previous day driving 12+ hours and a bazillion miles from Keystone, South Dakota and crashed in our Boise hotel at the stroke of midnight. We had gotten eight hours of sleep, partaken of the delicious continental breakfast, and had hot showers. The only thing missing was good coffee. (Oh man, Bordertown coffee is the bomb dot come you guys. If you’re crossing into Eastern Oregon from Boise, Idaho (or vice versa) please go there. Their iced chais are delicious. I will forever wish I’d gotten a bigger size and forever thinking about how to route any future trip through there.) I’m wearing my new Keystone t-shirt, the backpack Ant’s employer sent him when he’d first started working there, flip flops and favorite jeans. I took it because I wanted to remember this reflection of me.

This was our first road trip as adults outside of California. I wanted to remember the 12+ hour drive along the Snake River, the elevation sign that noted Mount Togwotee pass and us being 9,655 feet in elevation. I wanted to remember the snow still in the mountains in June. I wanted to remember the Grand Teton mountain range. I wanted to remember seeing Mount Rushmore in person, eating vanilla ice cream from a recipe Thomas Jefferson’s had created. I wanted to remember the human that had fallen in love with that seemingly random South Western corner of SoDak that “only” has Mount Rushmore to offer. (Not true in the slightest. those Black Hills are beautiful.) I wanted to remember being expectant of what our next drive would bring us. (Oof, Eastern Oregon.) I wanted to remember how much adventure seemed to suit me.

Last summer’s road trip definitely awakened something in me, in Ant too actually. It was exciting to see new places and what at least one state of the vaguely defined mid-West looks like.

I want to see the Pacific Ocean more. We live two hours away from our nearest beach and usually only go once a year.

I want to explore Tahoe more.

I want my City of Angels tourist weekend.

I want to visit more zoos, near and far.

We’re going back to SoDak this summer with Monica. This time, we’re going through northern Wyoming on our way there and will get to spend and entire day in Grand Teton National Park. And then we’ll be in the Black Hills for three days. I’m stoked to spend more time in this area, to actually see it. I’m hoping we can see other things along the way too.

But as I consider Mary Oliver’s question—”What is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?”—I hesitate, thinking about grasshoppers and fields.

I have never considered my life wild. I am a responsible, overall mature human. I’ve been referred to as an old soul more than a couple of times. I am the planner and “wild” feels like the opposite of that.

A year ago I would have told you that the wildest thing to happen was my upcoming promotion. But now…so much has happened since then. I left my office job in November. I’m trying to pursue the writing life. I get to watch my niece and nephew once a week. I want to write novels and blog consistently. Tennessee has been added to our permanent visit list. Ant and I aren’t necessarily tied to PTO or available vacation times; just internet. We’re also trying to become runners.

I think of wilderness, when I think of wild. I think of an adventuring party trying to save a town or finding the source of a problem. I think of Kettle’s wild magic. (He’s my miniature tabaxi in D&D.) (Stories to come on him.) I think of tigers and lions, maned wolves, red pandas, and so many other wild animals I’m learning about through the Rossifari Podcast.

I think of road trips and travel and vacations. Exploration. “The wilderness needs to be explored!” Russell declares to Mr. Fredrickson many times throughout the movie Up.

But as I looked though my camera roll at pictures from last year, I was reminded how beautiful my life is in between the road trips and Disneyland magic.

And then I remembered that there’s been so many times I’ve driven home from a game night or D&D session, movie night or holiday dinner gone late, or from the care home, or from one job coaching site to the next, and I think in pure awe, This is my life. It’s just this very raw moment of thankfulness to God that this is my life.

So, yes. I do want to remember that girl from last summer who drove through six different states and saw mountains and hills and animals she can’t wait to see again. But I don’t want to spend so much time dreaming or reminiscing that I forget that my daily life is pretty cool.

I’m a writer. I write for a living.

I have friends and family in Tennessee, Arizona, North Carolina, Oregon, and Montana. I have permanent places to stay and people to visit outside of California.

I have roots in here in this little NorCal area; that’s wild.

Laurisa and I just saw Anastasia on Broadway a month and a half ago; that’s wild.

I see my niece and nephew once a week. I babysit them. It’s less of an event now and more just our normal; that’s wild.

I will continue to buy succulents, plant strawberries, and water seeds and flowers to see pretty blooms.

I will continue to light up with it snows, when the moon looks cool, or when the sunrise and sunset—the sky in general, really—look beautiful. (Which is literally all the time for me.)

To answer Mary Oliver’s famous inquiry: What will I do with my one wild and precious life?

Well today, Mary, I will continue washing square things (blankets, towels, rags, etc.). I will pick-up my Red Robin leftovers from a friend’s house. I will pick up a library hold. I will pet our cats. I will eat dinner and play a board game or two with my husband tonight.

Thank you God for this “wild and precious life” of mine. That I am blessed with these seemingly simple things to do today—it’s wild. Thank you.

What do you plan to do with your wild and precious life today?

My writing group and I explore the theme of Wild this month. Read more stories on Wild from other Illuminate members:

Writing Process Notes:

3/18/22 // 1:26pm-2:16pm. Writing Desk, while eating lunch. Hobbit Hole Noises. Word total: 1180.

3/20/22 // 5:35pm-6:47pm. Writing Desk. Reread it and enjoyed it more than I did Friday lol. Edited and revised. looked for and added photos. Word count now: 1234.

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