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Mary Oliver, Mortality and Meaning Making

making sense of life & death Jan 26, 2019

In honour of Mary Oliver
Sept 10, 1935 ~ January 17, 2019

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

I don’t recall the first time I heard this famous quote from the late Mary Oliver’s poem, The Summer Day, but I do know that it brings tears to my eyes right here and now.

Really, is there a more pressing question for us mortals to consider? This question forces me to acknowledge and accept that I am a mortal being whose time on earth is finite. Whatever my beliefs about what happens after I die, this time around won’t last forever. In truth, I don’t know how long it will last at all.

Mortality and Meaning

Mary Oliver’s words speak to my yearning to make this life—my life—matter. My desire to live a life with meaning calls me to reflect, contemplate and get clear about who and what matter.

The thing is—and maybe you relate here—I find it very hard to create time and space for this type of discernment as I dash between the work of Willow, playground-supervision duty at my daughter’s school, accompanying my dad to his doctor’s appointments, the new spin class I love because of its early morning start time, and on and on.

I need help to hit pause. And that’s where Willow comes into the picture. If it weren’t for Willow, I’d probably lead a much less intentional life.

Heart-Centred and Holistic End-of-Life Planning

You see, Willow helps people with heart-centred, holistic and pragmatic end-of-life planning. Our free-to-download, Reality of Our Mortality Planning Checklist marries the pragmatic with the poetic. Topics like Legal and Financial Authority and Health and Personal-Care Wishes and Decision Making sit alongside Making Sense of Life and Death and Grieving and Healing. Planning inside this holistic container leaves me feeling enriched, energized and connected. Planning ahead for my inevitable death is soulful work, helping me to live and love fully now.

Spending time consciously contemplating the reality of your mortality will 100% impact how you live “your one wild and precious life.”  

The Summer Day by Mary Oliver

I don’t know exactly what a prayer is.

I do know how to pay attention,

how to fall down into the grass,

how to kneel down in the grass,

how to be idle and blessed,

how to stroll through the fields,

which is what I have been doing all day.

Tell me, what else should I have done?

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?

What about you?

How does the finite nature of your life inform and/or inspire you?

What poem has guided your living?