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 2010
One of my mentors put it this way: Humanity is counting not only on us but on those who we help to thrive and blossom in our wake.
Karaoke. I bring a lot to the microphone: enthusiasm, excellent song selection, volume-but not vocal talent per se.
I aspire to be like a chef, and to have a few courses in the adventure of life.
When I swung from the trapeze for the first time at sleep-away camp in the summer of 1993, I decided I wanted to join the circus.
I want to heal. Scanning the room in this make-shift clinic, we were surrounded by patients wasting away from diseases we knew how to cure, and patients suffering from disabilities we knew how to fix.
My grandfather taught me best. A former South Korean general who even through his eighties would wake up before sunrise to start his day.
As a blond-haired little boy growing up in Tallahassee, Florida, my earliest memories were of my mom reading to me every day in our living room.
Think strategically. Invest for the long term. Build sustainable institutions.
When I was three years old, my dad made me a pair of wooden wings and told me that if I practiced enough I could learn how to fly.
Kindness changed my life. As an insecure fifteen-year-old, I felt invisible in the chorus of a summer-theatre program.
Too overweight to ever be chosen for football practice, uninspired by school, dealing with a family divorce and spending several unforgettable days in a bomb shelter.
It took me a while to realize that the future I was chasing was the one I was "expected" to have, not the one I was destined for.
More people need art: the thick, anguished brush strokes of a Van Gogh; the high soaring notes of an overture; the whisper and promise of an opening curtain.
My memory fails me. It does not retain the precious details of days past. I must rely on the thousands of photographs that document the moments I hold dear.
It is the first punch of the night, and it is an absolute knockout. "7-8-9-10" I am a champion.
My great-grandmother, a Swedish immigrant, left her homeland at the age of twenty to pursue her American dream; my grandmother, a WWII nurse, outranked her own husband in the Army.
Say yes. When I was an undergraduate, I took an improvisation class on a whim. It completely changed my life. Improv has only one rule: say yes.
I really loved our green lawn mower. It broke when I was four years old, and I cried as my dad tried to throw it away.
I stood behind a wall of bananas, a fortress of fruit erected for the thousands of people participating in my volunteer event.
I'm in love with my island. I am inspired there, I know the people there, I want to raise a family there, I want to make a difference there.
One of my earliest memories of my grandfather and great-grandfather is of their business banter - kvetching about los negocios.
I fancy myself a detective. Growing up, I sure was a confident little investigator. I had all the answers. I knew exactly where in the world Carmen Sandiego was.
I plan to change the odds. So there I was, procrastinating while trying to finish Friday's cases, when out of idle curiosity I decided to find out who else from back home had walked these halls.
It began with a pack of Legos from a McDonald's Happy Meal. A few plastic blocks were meant to be a helicopter, but I quickly transformed them into a multipurpose vehicle - a boat and time machine.
My business card is perfect. Crisp white edges, soft laminate, sweeping font And a tuft of golden retriever hair stuck to the back with wine.
Wonder Woman, Batman, and Superman. As a child, I recall watching my adored superheroes day after day as they saved the world without fail.
Visiting has become harder as his memory slips away. First short-term memory faded, and then long-term memory followed, and finally my name.
Boston is where I come to die and be reborn. At seventeen I came to mourn the death of my first love - music - and my grandfather.
I fell in love when I was eight. I flew off the 1-meter springboard for the first time and my heart burst with excitement. I knew then that I would dedicate my life to diving.