This One Wild And Precious Life.

So, the daily literary quote rss feed on my igoogle home page has done it yet again. It's prompted me to pause and deeply ponder. And, random chance would have it that it was another Mary Oliver quote that was the catalyst.

I perhaps have been an unknowing closet fan of hers. Despite a Bachelor and Masters degree in Literature, I never once stumbled upon her in my studies--her thought provoking work has only recently dashed across my path and caused me to pull over for a pit stop.

After reading:
"Tell Me, what it is you plan to do with your one wild and precious life."
(Mary Oliver, American Poet)
I began to wonder what I am doing--what I will do--with my one wild and precious life.

Dean and I watched "Revolutionary Road" this weekend and for those of you who have yet to see it, it too, makes you think--think about just the kinds of questions that Oliver's quote prompts . . . will I settle for mediocrity, comfort, routine, stability and forgo living out dreams, desires, (non-destructive) impulsive urges, and yearnings? Will the house, kids, cars, bills, responsibilities whittle down my whimsical wants into empty suburban shells of lone gone aspirations?

When Dean and I met, I was in my last year of college as an undergrad and had joined the Peace Corps. I was headed to teach English in the humid and untamed jungles of Thailand. But, when he proposed that I move to Los Angeles with him after 9 months of a make-your-knees-weak-can't-concentrate-sweeter-than-honey romance, I agreed. It seemed exciting--not quite Thailand--but 3,000 miles away from home nonetheless.

Almost a decade later I can say that I have lived a wild and precious life--here in Los Angeles. We have lived out this time in arguably one of the grooviest places to possibly spend your 20 somethings. But now we want more. Both of us.

What we will do with our one wild and precious life?

Now that we have a baby, I do not believe that the answer to that question has to fit into a nicely packaged square box. I do not believe that we have to cease continuing to live the life we dreamed of living, say, before we birthed Noah Finn. I am not being unrealistic. I do admit that accommodations and adaptations and even concessions will have to be made. But I do hold firmly to the idea that a responsible and familial-friendly version of the life you've always dreamed of is attainable--even with a family--even without a large bank account--even if you are told you can't.

Studying the subject for years now that I love, marrying Dean, birthing Noah and being fortunate enough to stay at home to raise him is half of my answer to this question. But I am only 30 years old. I have a long wild road ahead to travel and precious things yet to explore.

Dean and I are deciding now how to answer this question. We have been and still are planning a move in the next few years. We are seriously considering Portland, Oregon. An organic farm just outside of the city limits sounds divine. We have talked about Paris. Riding a red bicycle with a baguette in basket and pants rolled just above the ankle sounds pretty heavenly too.

Silly, you might say? Why, you might ask?

Why not? . . . I would respond. Why not?

So, now . . . you tell me
in the comments below if you feel so obliged, what it is you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?


Rosanna =) said...

Interesting that I'm reading your blog post living in a completely different place!! Just this morning Matt and I were talking about our dream of living in a foreign country (for a year perhaps?) and how it would work now that we've got Fin. And then what about the possibility of more kids? And what do we need to do in order to save money to do this?

This is an ongoing dialogue that we have and one day I really hope it becomes more than just dialogue because after all, we only have one wild and precious life! =)

JJ Keith said...

Shortly after college I moved to Portland to live out my riot grrrl fantasies and jam with Sleater-Kinney. Sadly, I was a bit too late. I moved in 2000 and the dot com bubble had just decimated the local economy and wiped out all the rad web start-up jobs that I so coveted. I lived there for two years and then fled back to the Bay Area with my proverbial tail between my legs.

But I would feel very differently about Portland now that I have a family. It was a lousy place to be an angry feminist, five years behind her movement, but the schools are wonderful, there's great communities and public transportation, and loads of natural beauty.

And the rents? It's like being paid cold cash to live there. I had a gorgeous studio for $475. My fondest memories are of writing my rent check.

jennifer said...

oh, i am so with you. those two places... portland & paris are both in my dreams. but for now... la will be home. and i will be grateful, living my one wild life.

jacqueline f. said...

joni- we need to talk! we're always so busy talking about our babies! i had no idea that you studied literature. me too! andrew and i have seriously been considering a way to move to portland and paris. our fantasy is 6 months in one and then 6 months in another. i think you can have a family (which has always been one of my biggest fantasies) and live out the rest of your dreams. i think you have to be really committed to it, but it is possible. i want to travel the world with felix! i also want to help him discover everything amazing about los angeles. i think having a child helps you discover and experience so much more than you would just on your own. do you know what i mean? hopefully noah finn and felix can have some adventures together!

Christie Burnett said...

The thoughts that this post inspired in me, scare me somewhat as I think that I am mid-30s and we have not achieved what we thought we would be now due to some silly decision making in our mid-20's.

Now, being a SAHM, money is so tight for us that I feel like we have so few choices, and yet I want to stay at home and know that it is best for Immy.

So for now, I have to live in the here and now, or else I get scared. So I will leave the future for another day I think.


Anonymous said...

Wow, Joni! I had this poem taped up in my "cube" at the office...and now there is no cube, and a home office...it doesn't feel so wild, but it sure is precious and filled with crazy love. It's funny, the moment in the poem is small - watching a grasshopper - and I guess that's where I am now. Lovingly raising my little grasshopper, enjoying my life and my sweet friends and family.

I too had a sojourn in Portland 1996 or so and got too soaked in rain and beer and needed the sunshine of LA like medicine. All the good stuff is true too, so all I can say is we'll come visit you in the summer if that's where you should end up.

Happy and grateful to be home in this crazy city.

Love, Carrie

boatbaby said...

sail away!
it's a lovely life...


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