Cleaning out and looking back

cloudsI am moving my office and have been cleaning out my files and desk drawers. I will admit to being a bit of a pack rat and prone to bouts of nostalgia, so its been fun to see what I’ve had tucked away. I found my job application for my first editorial position—a job application that changed my life! I also found a draft copy of my PhD thesis and notes for my thesis defense. Between files full of research papers that I saved for one reason or another, there were birthday cards from colleagues and a “you can do it” card from a friend from when I was thinking of applying for the Editor-in-Chief position. It’s been like discovering a time capsule of my professional life.

In between all the work stuff, I found this Mary Oliver poem, which someone sent me in a period of particular soul searching in my life, when I was thinking hard about taking the leap to become a Mom. The last line is one that gripped my heart  and inspired me to take that leap: “Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life.”

The Summer Day

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 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?

–Mary Oliver

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