“Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?” - Mary Oliver, The Summer Day
As I read this line, one that I have read many times since I first heard it, my immediate reaction is that I would answer that question very differently at varying times of my life. As a young man, I would have responded with the big dreams I had to bless others in ministry, have a beautiful wife and children, and go on adventures around the world. I am grateful to say now, as I approach 60, that those dreams have come true. They did not happen the way I envisioned them to happen, there have been surprises and difficulties and frustrations and loss along the way, but I must admit I have been truly blessed.
And now? There more days in the rear-view mirror than on the road ahead. My energy level is much lower than it used to be; so is my need to “accomplish things.” I have been discouraged often by how little of a mark I have made, and will likely make, in the world. “Just make a mark,” said Richard Caemmerer in teaching painting, “and see where it goes.”
I have to laugh at this oft-quoted gem:
At 20, we worry about what others think of us.
At 40, we don`t care what they think of us.
At 60, we discover that they haven`t been thinking of us at all.
Ann Landers, Chicago Tribune, 1992.
I can’t say that my life has been wild but it certainly has been precious. Most importantly, it has been, and still is, my one (and only) life. And at any age, the call remains the same:
Just make a mark.