It's Day 27 of the Slice of Life Story Challenge, started by Two Writing Teachers. I am writing around the theme topic of "What I Know For Sure." (See Day 1 for a full explanation.)
It's also Poetry Friday. I participate haphazardly in Poetry Fridays, but today's thoughts were inspired by one of my favorite poems, so I'm going to link up there, too! Visit Jone at Check it Out for the Roundup!
by Mary Oliver
Who made the world?Who made the swan, and the black bear?
Who made the grasshopper?
This grasshopper, I mean-
the one who has flung herself out of the grass,
the one who is eating sugar out of my hand,
who is moving her jaws back and forth instead of up and down-
who is gazing around with her enormous and complicated eyes.
Now she lifts her pale forearms and thoroughly washes her face.
Now she snaps her wings open, and floats away.
I don't know exactly what a prayer is.
I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down
into the grass, how to kneel down in the grass,
how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields,
which is what I have been doing all day.
Tell me, what else should I have done?
Doesn't everything die at last, and too soon?
Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?
I grew up in the country, raised animals, played outside, hunted, and went fishing. I showed my poultry and an errant goat in the Warren County Fair and rode horses. My parents taught me to respect nature, not to litter, to care for creatures, and love the outdoors. When you raise animals, you see death as part of life, realize how vulnerable we all are, and how strong, too. It is so important that we know how to pay attention and be present in the glorious world we live in. The spring should make you stop in your tracks. Buds are unfolding, sprouts are pushing up through the earth, and birds are straining to be heard. It is a resurrection. How can you not want to "fall into the grass" and "stroll through the fields"? I'm glad I know who made the world so I can offer up a prayer, whether I know what one is or not.
Another thing I grew up knowing was that we only have one life and that you better figure out what you want to do with it. My mom loved her job as a teacher. Not a day went by that I didn't know she was passionate about her chosen profession and that she was loved in it. I knew her colleagues, students, and students' parents thought the world of her. My dad was also a role model when it came to jobs and life. I'm not exactly sure how to explain his vocational journey, but he eventually became an entrepreneur and opened up his own store, doing what he wanted to do. I married an entrepreneur, too - he left a known job to start his own business with a friend and colleague.
Both our sets of parents are now living in Florida, choosing to live their retirement the way they want to, before they are unable or someone else chooses for them. It's a joy to visit both of them, knowing they are living their dreams out while they are still young and healthy enough to enjoy it. They are vital, social, and active. They are mentors. In my life, I've learned that you better do what you love because you're going to spend a lot of time doing it. I've also learned that you can make choices about your life. If you don't like what you're doing, change it. Take those risks. Don't settle for something you don't enjoy. Time is short.
What I Know For Sure: You only have one wild and precious life. We only have one wild and precious world, and it's beautiful. Appreciate your life and world - be idle sometimes, pay attention, and feel blessed. Take the time to stop and enjoy, but to also take action when change is needed. Work at something you love. There's no time to waste.