The title of this week’s post is from Mary Oliver’s perfect question: “What is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?”
Here’s one answer: Become a Size 4, develop washboard abs, win the National Sheepdog Trials, cook perfect dinners that are perfectly healthy, rescue 1oo homeless dogs, and write a new book that wins the National Book Award. And oh yeah, Save the World.
Well, maybe not this year.
I’ve thought about my actual answer to my plans for my one wild and precious life a lot lately. Not surprising, given that life has been sucking us all into a black hole of chaos and crises, and I’m not getting any younger or healthier. It is also true that I live in a little paradise, and am overwhelmed with gratitude that my life is so rich and full of wonderful, talented, funny and loving people. And dogs. Thank god for the dogs.
So, what ARE my plans? I find myself so full of scattered thoughts and emotions that I don’t know where to start. So I’ll just start.
First, as you may know, I’m not big on New Year’s Resolutions, given what we know about how ineffective they are. I’ve written several first posts of the year that avoided them, or listed silly ones. But that doesn’t mean I’m not a fan of the oft-quoted “Reflections, not Resolutions,” and using this time of year to think about my “one wild and precious life” feels like the right thing to do. (I’ve always remembered the precious, but not the wild. Definitely need to remember that.)
My one wild and precious life needs FEWER TO DO LISTS. I made a commitment over the break to not start the day with a To Do list. It was heavenly. I did have a few things I wanted to do–I really do love/need to clear out clutter, being borderline ADHD means that I am exhausted by it–but I had no timeline to do any of it. If I felt like cleaning out a closet or desk, I did. If I didn’t, I didn’t. It was heavenly. I’m not knocking the value of listing what needs to be accomplished each day, I couldn’t function without doing it in reality. But I don’t need to write one every day now, do I?
I love the idea of a DAY OFF, a Sabbath as it were. Mine is going to be Sunday. Yesterday I realized that walking the dogs every single morning and evening, up a steep and very long hill, is wearing me out. (This doesn’t count all the times I walk up the hill to work the dogs.) It’s good for me physically, and it’s good for them too, but what is also good is taking a day off from it. Yesterday we took the dogs out just to potty, made a big breakfast, and then later in the day took all four of us on an excursion to new places. It was fun, and different, and wonder of wonders, did not involve climbing a steep hill. Later, I lay on the couch and watched Aaron Rodgers be magnificent in the late afternoon instead of trudging up the hill in the snow. I made gyros from the lamb roast I made Saturday night. (I made the flatbread too. Hey, I didn’t say I wouldn’t brag sometimes.)
BE KIND. That’s my mantra for 2021. I often begin my day writing in my journal, and lately, this is often the last thing I write. Be Kind. In general, I think it’s accurate to say that I am mostly a kind and compassionate person. I’m pretty sure my friends would say the same thing. However, that doesn’t mean I am kind and compassionate every single moment. One doesn’t get to edit out things they’ve thought or said in life, as we do in something we write. There are times I have been impatient, or snarky or thoughtless. Like most of us, I have the hardest time being kind to myself, and forgiving myself for being less than I want to be. But I am reminded by those wiser than I am that self-forgiveness is as important as eating well and exercising. The Dali Lama talks about having no regrets, but rather forgiving one’s self and committing to doing better in the future. That’s my plan going forward.
CELEBRATE! That’s the last plan I’ll mention today for my one precious life. Yesterday was Maggie’s 8th birthday, and I didn’t remember that it was on the 3rd of January until I read last year’s January post. So we’ll celebrate today and love every minute of it. There are many ways to celebrate, and I intend to add in being silly and playful more often (it’s good for us!), celebrating all the wonderful things that Maggie and Skip are capable of doing, and fussing less when my training comes up short. Every day can have even just a moment of celebration in it, right? Tomorrow I’ll celebrate being able to afford the new car I sorta had to buy, even though cars aren’t my thing and the techie/multimedia system in a new Toyota appears to have been designed by 3 engineers and 2 IT specialists locked into a room with bowls of cocaine and a whole lot of cannabis. But I am so lucky to have been able to buy it, and eventually I’ll get it figured out.
That’s it: A day off. Fewer To Do Lists. Kindness. Celebrations. Sounds like a good start to the New Year to me. You?
MEANWHILE, back on the farm: I took a break between Christmas and New Year’s, and it was peaceful and sweet and sometimes sad and sometimes rich with love and laughter. I cooked a lot, ate a lot, worked the dogs a lot, cleaned out closets, Facetimed with friends and family, read a lot and watched TV every single night as if hypnotized. (Holy moly, have you seen Bridgerton yet, she asks, fanning her face and clutching her pearls.)
Yesterday we took the dogs on walks to places they’d never been. I thought the novelty would be good for them, and we were ready for some time away from the farm in safe, healthy places. (What, MacDonald’s drive up for lunch on the way back isn’t healthy?)
I was yearning–no idea why–for water, so we walked first along the Wisconsin River, where I took this shot along the bank. This is pretty much our world right now, a muted mix of black, brown, grey and white. But it still can be beautiful.
Next is a wider shot of the same place. I played with the filters in the Photo App (can’t use Aperture on my new laptop, sigh) and ended up with this “cool” scene. A little prettier than in person, but hey, why not?
Different place, different light, something about this ice looks prehistoric–dinosaurian?–to me.
It’s been cloudy and dull for days, but there are areas with frosted trees that make up for it. This was on Highway 60 between Spring Green and Sauk City.
But you know I’m a fool for color. The African Violets are making me happier than I can say. Note that the purple one in the back, the violet of the mother of a friend, flown from the east coat after her death, has been blooming for AN ENTIRE YEAR WITHOUT STOPPING. (I apologize for yelling, but it deserves a shout out. Nothing blooms for a year straight, right?) Now that is something to celebrate. It’s about to take a well-deserved rest; I remain stunned that it’s bloomed for so long.
Tells us what you are going to celebrate this week, and/or what you plan to do with your one precious and wild life? We will love hearing from you.