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, "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 2009
An F! I didn't want to believe it. Just as I was trying to forget a disastrous semester, the Registrar wanted to give me one last reminder.
I quoted a military general in my high school yearbook. I wanted to be a Marine. I sensed how fortunate I was to be born where I was, when I was.
You don't walk away unscathed from an accident where the Greyhound bus you are on crashes into an 18-wheeler — killing and injuring all but a handful.
I, a diminutive nine year-old child of nothing but skin and bones wearing my stained shorts and torn shirt was standing in line at Siddhi Vinayak Temple in Bombay.
One day, I will build a crib from scratch. It will feature stained wood for style and monster truck-sized tires for performance, just in case we need to move it around.
I hear an ambulance siren at 2 AM, and I think, "Someone's family is having a horrible day."
I grew up in a region synonymous with two things: Energy and Islam. Both have recently been threatened, and both will have to adapt in order to survive.
I remember sitting against a tree at summer camp listening intently to a counselor who, with her guitar, taught me a song that I still sing to myself every day.
Once I start... I literally can't stop. Laughing, that is. Everyone who knows me or has been in class with me has experienced one of these uncontrollable outbursts.
My grandmother was born in a remote village at the dawn of the twentieth century. Married in her late teens, she was widowed in her early twenties, with two young sons.
In ten years, don't ask my title or in twenty tally up my board seats. In thirty years, don't count the commas in my net worth.
My recurring dream is far from a nightmare, thank god. The dream actually varies quite dramatically but the common element is flying.
>My home-village, Akri, the place my father was born... is where I slept under mosquito net covered hand-woven beds and rode on ox-carts to nearby, barren fields.
Everywhere I look, I see miracles. They manifest themselves delightfully in the tiny details of my everyday life.
"Behold the candle, how it gives light. It weeps its life away drop by drop in order to give forth its flame."
My dad blogs. A lot. One of his favorite topics is, for better or worse, me.
I once dreamt of becoming a film-maker. When asked why, I often justified my aspiration with elaborate arguments in order to convince the skeptics.
Frolicking in the sun. Puddle-jumping in the rain. Teasing my sisters. Feasting on dessert. Sipping tea. Family vacations on white sandy beaches. This was my childhood in Kenya.
The rhythm of chirping Blackberries. Students running from classes to meetings to a ringtone that never ends.
I tread along in the footsteps of those who have accomplished so much with so little.
In my pocket, I carry a Gratitude Rock. When I pick it up in the morning, it reminds me to be grateful for all of the opportunities I've been given.
My palms were sweaty. My heart raced. A million questions flew through my mind. Did I do well enough to get in? Would they even want someone like me?
I am going to rediscover the buffalo. As a young kid, an elder on my reservation pulled me aside to tell me about the buffalo.
I grew up with a deep suspicion of capitalism's inequities. So much so, I have often thought that if my sixteen year-old self could meet me today.
As a child, I asked questions relentlessly. Why is the sky blue? Why do birds chirp?
It was a perfect day. I was traveling through Peru's valleys, and in my train car there was a group of more than 30 elderly friends — men and women in their 70s.
Life is a marathon I am ready to run. I will retrieve the torch of ministry to serve.