“Hold fast to dreams,
For if dreams die
Life is a broken-winged bird,
That cannot fly.”
I believe one of the best questions I’ve ever read was, “Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?” This question comes from the last line of the poem, The Summer Day, by Mary Oliver.
The first time I read that question I burst into tears. Not this, I said. Not this. Sometimes we can answer this type of question immediately, sometimes we need to peel away the layers of our lives to get to the heart of who we are first. Sometimes it’s easier to say what we don’t want, before we can say what we do want.
But I knew what I wanted ever since I was a young girl thumbing through National Geographic. I wanted to be a travel adventuress. I wanted to live in a foreign country where I’d write and photograph the world that existed well beyond my small suburban Long Island town.
When I first read that question I was so far away from the adventurous and creative life I’d dreamed of it wasn’t even a speck on the horizon. All my focus went into the business I owned with my husband, our eye on the prize of security during an unstable time in our lives and in the world. Instead of being rebellious, wild and free, I was responsible, weary and frustrated.
All those years I spent working in my business weren’t wasted. I grew in self-confidence. I became tenacious. I learned about excellence. But the passing years piled up on each other so high I couldn’t see what was ahead of me. Then I read that question and started the long climb down to earth where I could see my dreams twinkling on the horizon again.
I read that question and took a solo trip to Asia.
I read that question and spent six years writing a book.
I read that question and quit working at my business to write full time.
I read that question and let go of all I was for all I could become.
I read that question and moved to a foreign country.
Now I live in Portugal where I write and photograph. I believe it’s never too early to make our dreams come true. So tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life, now that you’ve read that question?