Each year we ask our classmates a straightforward, simple question taken from the last lines of a poem by Pulitzer Prize-winning author, Mary Oliver. We share with you intimate and candid responses to this question, "Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?"
The Summer Day
by Mary Oliver
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 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?
Class of 2006
As a 10 year old, all I wanted to do in life was grow up to be an adult - that way, at dinner parties, my mother couldn't keep sending me away to play with the younger kids.
I am living the life of a five year old girl I have never met. A stranger I imagine. She has pigtails, is dirty, poor, and is busy fetching water in the slums of India.
I plan to travel far.
Our world today is one of superstar athletes, teenage popstars, business executives, news reporters, and central bankers.
I learned to sing at the same time I learned to talk. My dad would rock me to sleep every night and have me fill in the words to his lullabies. That's when my love for music was first sparked.
I am always running. Running to submit that HBS application at the eleventh hour. Racing to Aldrich for class. Sprinting to deliver my résumé to recruiters.
Get mud in between my toes, dirt under my fingernails and sing the blues.
At birth in 1916 my Grandfather weighed 1 lb. His makeshift crib was a shoebox and his incubator the family oven.
"Good, better, best.
Never let it rest.
Until your good is better.
And your better best."
I still constantly look around and think, "I am so different from these people." Although I crossed no ocean to get here, it feels as though I crossed something even bigger - a social and economic divide.
The alarm rings at 6:00 AM on a Tuesday morning and I am in bed staring at the ceiling. My eyes open wide as my personal hard drive boots up.
Laugh. Mostly because I can't help it. Whether I'm happy, tickled, nervous, or surprised, it just springs out of me. And it's contagious.
I am the 2005 Pad Thai Eating Champion of Boston. I ate 4 large platters in 30 minutes. My picture hung outside of 9 Tastes Thai Restaurant in Harvard Square for an entire year. I put it on my resume.
I am standing on a Jerusalem hilltop, moments from signing the treaty of peace in the Middle East. I look east and I see Palestine, I look west and I see Israel. Accord is finally here.
Throw out the five-year plan. Toss out the day planner. Turn my back on the could-ofs, should-ofs, and would-ofs constantly swirling through my head.
I want to live each and everyday fully:
To climb high; to reach low extending a helping hand.
"I'm going to be an Olympic diver", I confidently declared as a knock-kneed, chubby 10 year-old. "Sure Mike - go for it", responded my supportive but somewhat sceptical family.
My mom travels with a frying pan. A fifty-cent yard sale purchase, the pan makes the world's best banh xeo, a Vietnamese dish.
When I was six I contracted childhood measles and went blind for a number of days.
I'd like to hold many titles throughout my life, MBA, CEO, daughter, sister, aunt, wife, and mother -- but if I had to pick only one, I would choose "Teacher of the Year."
I am deeply attached to a simple idea:
If every human being can work to make things better in whatever place they have influence then the world will also be a better place.
Growing up in Argentina with loving parents and finding the love of my life were the strongest things that shaped the person I am today.
I want to get high.
I want to edge risk.
I want to climb to remember I am alive.
I will hit the snooze button once every morning and
Relish those precious nine minutes standing ahead of REALITY.
"Your daughter is deaf and she may never read beyond a fourth grade reading level," the doctor told my parents when I was two.
I want to make people feel at home, even if they're thousands of miles away from it.
When my mother closed her eyes and jumped from the Saigon docks onto a puttering fishing boat 30 years ago, she had no idea where life was going to take her.
"I do not wish to have a thriving career at the expense of my personal life."