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

Tell me, what is it you plan to do

With your one wild and precious life?

Mary Oliver


The baby is me. 1952. I am cradled in my grandfather’s (Pop’s) arms.


Look at the smile on his face! How happy I am making him! My great grandmother (Bubbie, born 1874) is looking at me with adoring eyes. My grandfather (Bow-wow) not so much. Still, we are all basking in the sun.


70 years of life looms ahead. The baby is not thinking to himself, “what is it I plan to do with my one wild and precious life?” He’s just here. Soaking up rays. He doesn’t know the adventures, wonders, and heartbreaks that lie ahead. And the falls.


Wouldn’t do a damn bit of good to tell him, “Don’t walk into the gin clear rushing mountain streams at the head of a waterfall.” Because he will step there anyway.


Yet, waterfalls aside, I’d tell little bambino, “At seventy you’ll still be here. And if, when you

become a septuagenarian, you can look back and give thanks and look ahead still wondering what you plan to do with your one wild and precious life, well that is sunshine indeed.”

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