I joined a group to write about loss. When we entered the room, there was a table covered with images which we could use for writing if we didn’t want to follow the prompt. I saw a picture of a falcon, soaring high above an indistinct landscape. There was a small movement in my heart, so I picked it up. While the facilitators were telling us the ground rules, confidentiality, etc. I looked at the falcon again. My heart swelled and my eyes filled with tears. As soon as we could write, I started.
I look at the falcon, soaring so high above the landscape that it’s hard to see what it is. My first thought is ski areas, but then I see what might be water. The words that come are “What will you do with your one wild and precious life?” My eyes fill with tears. I was supposed to be a falcon, soaring above the landscape, seeing the planet as a huge world, one world. But somehow, just after I broke through the shell, I was crippled. I don’t remember what happened, but my wings don’t work. I am forced to walk, slowly, step by step, across a landscape of which I see only the tiniest little bit. At first there’s a pain in my heart. Then I look closer. There is grass, moss, tiny wildflowers. There are basins filled with sand, with odd succulent plants growing in them. There are ants, marching in a line, and here’s a huge white rock, full of crystals, yet smooth as though it has been scraped clean. I keep going and come to an odd place that smells bad. There are strange shaped objects, some colored liquid has spilled, there are ants all over it. The ants must be finding food, but nothing looks natural, none of this stuff belongs.
What have I done with my one wild and precious life? I have studied and learned how the sun happened, and the galaxies, how the planet Earth formed, and created its atmosphere. How one-celled animals transformed the atmosphere, how life created more complex conditions for more life, how the planet became so beautiful, so many diverse creatures, and plants, and rocks. Then humans somehow left the path of wisdom, and have started to destroy this life-support system on a tiny blue-green planet in the vast reaches of space. It’s looking as though we — because I am one of these destructive beings — will not be able to stop this process. I grieve for all the losses.