Inspiration or perspiration?


“Tell me, what is it you plan to do 

with your one wild and precious life?” 

-Mary Oliver

I’m sure you’ve seen this question posted on all sorts of inspirational sites.  I’ve used it in my writing before.  I finally looked up the rest of the poem.  The sublime Ms. Oliver begins the poem asking who made the world.  Then this happens:

“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?”

Yeah, I know.  Me, too.  Moved!  Inspired.  It’s that flush in your chest, a little fullness in the throat, maybe a little moisture in the eye.  Five minutes from now, if you’re anything like me, the inspiration passes and life continues as it had been before all that feel good/fuzzy stuff just happened.

Inspiration changes nothing.  It changes no one.  Inspiration is a benign breeze that rustles the leaves but acts in no way to knock them loose.

There is the inspiration, the prayer..and then, there is life.  The being in the grass, the strolling through the fields….the movement that punctuates the day, the nourishing of the belly, the sprinting up a hill because you can.

If you want to change your life, yes, inspiration is wonderful.  It is the nice initial blush that the view of the possible puts into your cheeks.  I’ve seen this question about what I plan to do with my one wild and precious life countless times.  It took a long time to actually answer the question.  Then, even longer still to start living the answer.

There is only one life, however wild and precious it is to you is up to you to decide, but then comes the perspiration.  The skin sweats out of the answer.  The salty sheen is what is real.

It can be very easy to get stuck chasing the inspiration.  Mostly because it feels really good to have those lofty thoughts.  It feels amazing to aspire.  The daily chores and the constant care of the body feels a little less euphoric.  But, that is where life is.  Life is in the sweat.

Like us on facebook…if you feel so inspired.


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