Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?
– Mary Oliver
after decades of wondering what I’d be
when I grew up,
what I’d do when I found my ‘real’ work,
what I’d contribute to life that might be of worth,
I tossed the questions to the stars
and gave up
is this typical I wonder?
a symptom of seniorhood?
or does it eventually occur to everyone
that while life is unbearably precious
and untameably wild
it isn’t yours or mine nor ever was
so with hair gone silver and eyes a-twinkle,
I whisper to the beloved poet:
this wild and precious life was never mine to map;
it always had its own agenda, dancing itself
across infinite webs of thought and feeling,
back to its own vibrant womb
and the role it gave itself as miriam
was that of sweeper of the space,
one who clears the mind-droppings, ensuring
no concealment of that fierce Grace
shining, shining through the world’s sorrow and joy
(and the sweeper’s too)
And what will Life do I wonder, with its one wild and precious You?
Image: Kano Motonobu – Zen Patriarch Xiangyen Zhixian Sweeping with a Broom (detail)
Muromachi period 1336-1868. Ink and color on paper.