Welcome back to Restorative Grief with Mandy Capehart. You are listening to episode 70 titled, “This One Wild & Precious Life.” while you are listening to this episode, I am likely on a beach somewhere in California. I don’t bring that up to make you feel any kind of way other than to recognize that even passionate and driven people like me take breaks. I’m trying not to do any work while I’m resting and that includes my own grief work. But I am asking making space to ask myself a very important question and wanted to invite you to consider this question in your life, too.
You may not be familiar with the beloved poet Mary Oliver – may she rest in peace. Her poem The Summer Day is now world renowned and for good reason. I’ll link to it in the show notes if you’d like to revisit the work, but the final stanza is the launchpad for today’s contemplation. Oliver writes:
Tell me, what else should I have done?Mary Oliver, The Summer Day
Doesn’t everything die at last, and too soon?
Tell me, what is it you plan to do
With your one wild and precious life?
Perhaps you’ve heard this and didn’t realize the source, but this question has spurned artists and contemplatives worldwide to push back against the hurry and capitalism and performance driven nature of modern society. But most often when I consider this question, I feel guilt rise up.
I know the list of yeses I’ve offered is long, but careful. There was a time that my yeses stockpiled faster than my reserves and I burned out. I’m not alone in this burnout and guilt, so that’s why I feel Mary Oliver’s poetic question needs a follow up.
Settle into wherever you are right now. If you like writing while you contemplate, take a moment to set yourself up to answer this next question with your full intentions. Remember that our grief work is intertwined with our life work – and they both rely on our ability to know and honor the core values of our season. You have permission to make space for this work.
When I want to counteract the guilt of my busy, “doing” life, I can’t just say that I have to reprioritize. I need to first recognize where I’m lacking intention.
For the sake of this conversation, we’ll talk about our whole self model. If our values are mindfulness, self-compassion, movement, and connection (mind, heart, body, spirit), then I have a track to run on. As a side note, those are four VERY excellent starting values for someone looking for a starting point in their Restorative Grief work journey.
Our follow up question for contemplation is this:
What is the most neglected important area in my life right now?
I love this question because we already know it’s something internal. If you’re not sure, let me tell you – it’s internal. Our internal world is a reflection of the external experiences of our lives. We internalize our sense of self and safety from what we witness, which can result in putting ourselves last if we’re not careful. Although you may not believe it, you are naturally sympathetic and compassionate toward others that you feel responsible to, and that’s okay. What is not okay is allowing that to overtake your values and sense of your own importance.
So take a metaphorical seat. Maybe several, if you’re prone to distraction like me. Think about your values – the things that matter the most to you – and pick the one that seems the most overlooked.
You have one wild and precious life. Those of us who carry grief understand impermanence in a way we can’t quite explain, and I’m with you if you’re feeling unsteady right now. Our world’s may feel a bit wilder than we’d like…I know I hear that word and I’m conflicted. Sometimes I like the wild but other times, I just want simplicity and order. So no matter how you’re responding to that first question internally, it is important to follow it with this guided reflection as well. What is the most neglected important area in your life right now?
Let’s make it clear – this is not intended to generate an answer such as, “My extended family” or “My job responsibilities.” Those are external areas of life that may well be less valued or attended than necessary, but those are not our concerns at the moment. You can’t show up in those areas living a half life of burnout and obligation. You deserve to show up whole.
Your life is precious; even when it feels wild and out of control – even when it feels mundane and repetitive. How can you honor your process, your growth, your grief experience, and your whole self by answering this question before it’s too late?
Thank you for listening to episode 70 of Restorative Grief. I wanted this one to be short and to the point. Go make space in your day to reflect on these questions. To pursue an answer that feels welcoming and creates space to expand for whatever new insight arises. We already know we have one wild and precious life. We just may need a little reminder that what we do with it matters because we inherently matter. Our value is non-negotiable, even if you’ve been told otherwise. And if you have been told otherwise, today’s the day you embrace this new narrative of wild and precious into your internal dialogue instead.
If this is your first time listening to Restorative Grief, I am grateful you’re here and hope you’ll stick around. This question is one I return to often, and it’s an honor to share my own healing process with each of you. If you’re interested in extra content, consider becoming a Patron of the show or a Premium subscriber via Spotify for bonus interviews and a live monthly grief chat. And of course, please leave a shiny five-star review, because you know that helps others find the grief support they need here as well. Don’t forget to check the show notes for a link to Mary Oliver’s poem as well as additional resources from Restorative Grief.
And as always, one last thing. Please remember, the only solution for grief is to do the work of grieving. Thanks for listening. I’ll see you next week.
Links + Resources for this episode: