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Daily Inspiration Podcast
June 28, 2022
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00:00
Tuesday, June 28, 2022

Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?

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Mary Oliver

This popular quote become a kind of rallying cry, for on its own it leaves the reader zealous: Seize the day, it seems to say. Get up and go! But taking it from its place, at the end of Mary Oliver’s poem “The Summer Day,” alters its meaning. In context, it is decidedly against ambition; the poem describes a day alone in nature. The speaker, described as “idle and blessed,” observes a grasshopper, kneels, strolls, and simply pays attention. “Tell me,” she asks, “what else should I have done? / Doesn't everything die at last, and too soon?” Perhaps the key to understanding the poem is in reading the phrase “what is it you plan to do” as ironic. Life, Oliver suggests, is inherently “wild and precious.” Our job is simply to pause, and notice it is so. 

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Fill in the blank: "___ are the clothing of our thoughts." - Jonathan Swift
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