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Rest and Receive

Tell me, what is it you plan to do

With your one wild and precious life?


These words are probably familiar to you. But do you know where they’re from?


I bet you’ve read these words while seeking inspiration and motivation to DO something.


To take a risk and go back to school.


To ask that certain someone out on a date.


To stop messing around and get that promotion already.


To step up and stand up and LIVE OUT LOUD.


After all, tick tock tick tock…


This precious life is waning and time is running out…


Are you just gonna sit around and let yourself be miserable?

No! Of course not!

I’m going to STEP IT UP and MAKE PLANS and GET OUT THERE and SET GOALS and JOIN THE HUSTLE so when I’m old and gray, I’ll look back and have NO REGRETS from my ONE WILD AND PRECIOUS LIFE!!!


Cue motivational music followed by frenzied gym purchases, college enrollments, diet plannings, divorce filings, and the racing racing racing to be the BEST EVER AT EVERYTHING!


This too was my experience of the poem - that is until I listened to Glennon Doyle read more of it on her podcast, We Can Do Hard Things.


Here’s the poem in its entirety.


Who made the world?

Who made the swan, and the black bear?

Who made the grasshopper?

This grasshopper, I mean--

the one who has flung herself out of the grass,

the one who is eating sugar out of my hand,

who is moving her jaws back and forth instead of up and down --

who is gazing around with her enormous and complicated eyes.

Now she lifts her pale forearms and thoroughly washes her face.

Now she snaps her wings open, and floats away.

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 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?


Beautiful, right?


Tell me, what else should I have done?


Besides sit in the grass, feeding sugar to a grasshopper, and being IDLE and BLESSED…


So, to put it bluntly, all those GET MOTIVATED messages about the poem are crap.


The whole STEPPING UP and GETTING SERIOUS stuff…


It’s all just prepackaged lies we’re fed to make us all feel inadequate and insecure so we keep the hamster wheel spinning during our one wild and precious life.


I’d like to think Mary Oliver would be very very mad that her poem has been so grotesquely distorted.


Fall down into the grass and be idle and blessed, she says.


The whole point of this one wild and precious life is to relish the world.


Or what I’ve started calling REST and RECEIVE.


Rest and receive is not something that comes naturally to me.


I’m more comfortable with the hustle and the stress and the fixing and the urgency to GET SHIT DONE.


Work hard, play hard, and all that crap.


At some point in my human training I was taught that to just sit there and hang out with grasshoppers is a complete waste of my precious time. This means that for most of my adult life, I’ve been deluded into the idea that long days, difficult work, and scuttling around setting goals was the sure-fire path to success.


In fact, when my own life quiets down, I’ve been known to actively seek the drama and trauma of others just to keep myself in a state of stress.


No wonder why I trained to be a counselor.


But here’s the thing: I don’t want to do it anymore.


Not only am I tired as all hell, but I’m starting to see the cracks in the veneer of STEPPING UP for success.


It doesn’t really benefit me - but I do see how it benefits others.


I see how being busy distracts me from creating my own mini multidimensional rebellion.


I see how frantically seeking (low paying) contracts satisfies the people who are proposing them.


I see how my desperation to feel less inadequate in my skin funds the billion dollar fashion and beauty industries.


And I see how the stress of THE HUSTLE is showing up in my body and mind.


And since Mary Oliver says falling into the grass and being idle and blessed is a perfectly fine way to spend this one wild and precious life, I might try that for a while.


Oliver’s not the only one who says stress is not a path to success.


Neurobiology is pretty clear: chronic stress doesn’t result in success. If anything, it breaks down tissue and causes chronic disease.


Quantum physics is pretty clear too. Incoherence and cacophony literally create chaos as water crystalizes, so you can only imagine what it does to our water-filled cells!


Yoga has always been grounded in the principles of presence and integration as keys to health and happiness. Whether it’s through physical asana or mental meditation, reducing stress (not seeking it) is the way to go.


Stress does not equal success.


And yet, stress is what most of us seek.


We seek it when we watch scary movies instead of slowing down before bed.


We seek it when we leave the radio on all day listening to the global news.


We seek it when we call someone else to see what’s stressing them out instead of choosing to be alone.


We seek it when we refuse to slow down and instead insist on moving and shaking and problem-solving our way through our days.


But seeking and stressing only creates more seeking and stressing which only creates more seeking and stressing and so on and so forth until our one wild and precious life is done.


And let me tell you, constantly seeking and moving and shaking actually violates the law of attraction.


Mama Earth did not attract and retain the moon by darting around the solar system. Nope, she hunkered down and got cozy in her constant, consistent spinning. That’s how gravity works.


And although you might look, sound, and act like a person.


You are actually a planet, so the rules of gravity still apply.


The more steady you are, the more you attract.

Look at Oprah - she stayed in the same city doing the same job for 25 years and just let all the abundance come to her. We didn’t see her darting about the planet or frantically trying to change jobs or hustling for anyone’s approval.


She just hunkered down and spun on her own axis.


To be clear, rest and receive isn’t about being complacent or lazy or neglectful of this one wild and precious life.


In fact, because we are multidimensional beings, there’s actually a LOT to take care of in our sitting still.


It’s more about making sure that our constant trying and effort isn’t counterproductive.


It’s about trusting all the beautiful energy we put OUT into the world will also come right back IN.


And in the meantime, we should enjoy, honor, and worship this one wild and precious life.


I had the privilege of growing up on a quiet farm in the Middle of Nowhere with not much else to do but stroll through fields, fall down in the grass, and sometimes learn the hard won lesson that sometimes pigs and chickens and geese and kittens die too soon.


I used to think my childhood was boring and totally undervalued the sanctity of the Middle of Nowhere.


But as I round this corner of realization, I recognize all my time on that quiet farm as a powerful instruction in how to stroll through fields, fall down in grasses, and slow myself long enough to truly be with those precious pigs and kittens before they die too soon.


May you also rest and receive the abundant beauty around you exactly right now.



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