Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life? Mary Oliver, Poet
When Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award winner Mary Oliver coined those words in her 1992 epic poem A Summer Day, a pandemic named Covid-19 was unimaginable. But it happened and knocked each one of us off kilter, and almost knocked Mother Earth off her axis. At least that is how it has felt to me, and probably to you, too.
The last couple of years have certainly been wild; precious, not so much. It’s been a rough road, especially for caregivers. There was nothing precious about wearing a mask, sometimes two; traipsing up and down empty grocery aisles hoping shelves of bread and toilet paper were going to be delivered tomorrow; hearing news of loved ones infected with the virus even though they isolated and followed all the rules; and watching our leaders fighting and clawing at each other to no end.
Precious moments? I don’t think so.
No need to recap the challenges, heartaches, and profound losses we have all experienced trying to sustain wellness while working desperately to care for ourselves and others. While some have scored higher in mitigating the pandemic maze, others have failed miserably. Count me in with the latter group. But what I’ve realized, and want to share with you, is that all that has happened to us as a collective community needs to take a back seat to what is going to happen to us as a healthy, thriving, compassionate collective community now and in the future.
Where to start? How about with recognizing and owning our one “precious” life? As caregivers, we have dedicated our minutes, hours, and years to helping others. As writer Annie Dillard reminds us: The way we spend our days is the way we spend our lives. And choosing this way of life every day continues to shine and show off the best of humanity.
Most important, it is imperative we care for ourselves first and foremost. No time to feel guilty or self-centered or selfish when we put ourselves first. Covid has mandated that to move forward and value our lives once again, we must first fill ourselves up. With the good stuff – self-love and kindness toward others, peace-filled thoughts and actions, befriending nature, rekindling our faith, embracing our creative talents, and forgiving.
I can’t tell you how to accomplish the monumental task of recovering from what Covid and the last few years have carried into your life. Only you can do that. You have the gift of deciding what you will and what you won’t allow in your life going forward. We’re all at the starting gate, once again. Our second chance for good health and happiness has arrived. We each have been handed a do-over.
Take this blessing and run with it. As fast as you can. For it is truly precious.
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