One Wild and Precious Life

(Written in August 2005)
I was thinking about the line from Mary Oliver: “what will you do with your one wild and precious life?” and how it always makes me feel bad, like I have wasted mine.  Well, have I wasted it?  I think she’s talking to people who’ve lived small conventional lives, lives of denial.  And what about lives of greed and power and cruelty?  If my life has been narrow, if I’ve failed to live as wide and wild and courageous and generous and creative a life as I would have liked to, and as I think I had the talent and capacity for, it’s not because I was weak and cowardly but because I was up against major damage I couldn’t even see.  And I have taken a stand for truth, for justice, for peace, I have fought against oppression, I have spoken out for the disadvantaged.  I have devoted money time and energy to good causes.  I have supported friends, sometimes at cost to myself.  I have done my best to love unconditionally and to live with integrity.

(Written in May 2006)
It’s hard to hold the sadness — because I don’t think I have “good reason” for it.  So I’m slightly angry/disappointed, slightly invalidating.  “I wanted so much and I never got any of it.” “I’m capable of living passionately, and never got the opportunity.”  What have I done with my one wild and precious life?  I’ve labored hard in a narrow but deep field.  I’ve done my best to love what’s been given me, to create beauty, to create nourishing experiences for the soul.  A lot of passion has gone into working to heal myself, to heal others, to understand, to find compassion.  A lot of passion has gone into fighting pollution and injustice, has gone into efforts to make the world a better place.

(Written in July 2006)
I got out the 1991 journal because there were some references to Perelandra in the beginning of the year.  I was hoping to find something about my first experiences with the MAP program – but I must have written that in a different notebook and I destroyed all those pages a while ago.  There was a lot going on: Journey into Courage, I was seeing Doug for Process work, struggling with depression and terror.  I’m surprised at the intensity and passion with which I wrote.  It doesn’t sound like the grey depressed life I’ve been imagining.  On the other hand, there’s a lot of pain and struggle.  There are also learnings that I think I’ll be able to act on right away.  I’m working with the issue of trying to keep rigid control over myself and seeing that a looser, more open way would be healthier, if scary.  My first sense on reading my enthusiastic writing about this new learning is discouragement — God! I keep learning the same damn things over and over.  But I see now that intellectual learning is only the beginning.  Learning how to let go of rigid control and allow the pieces to find their own way is a long process, it has to gradually sink in, penetrate and loosen and change layer after layer.  In 1991 I had no idea how strong were the forces holding the rigid systems in place.

Reading 1991 is fascinating and painful.  Detailed descriptions of dreams, of process work with Doug, of the breathwork group.  I’m not reading every word — partly seeing how much effort I’m putting into intellectual understanding, which doesn’t change the important things at all.  I’m not yet on medication — not even considering it, I have no idea about the Post-traumatic Stress or the low thyroid — and I’m fighting as hard as I can.  I have a lot more respect for myself, for my strength and persistence.  What did you do with your one wild and precious life?  I fought like a demon against the forces of oppression.  Not a wasted life at all.

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