The Summer Day
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?
- Mary Oliver
Do you feel like your life has become stagnant? Uneventful? Are you getting tired of this virtual existence we find ourselves pulled deeper and deeper into every day? Do you feel like screens are taking over your life?
Well, I sure do.
I work in front of two monitors every day. When I take breaks, I find myself reaching for my phone or laptop. After I log off, I may turn on the TV to catch up on some headlines. I feel like I'm being pulled away from the beauty of the real world more and more.
I wanted to begin a retreat business to fill myself back up with the things that I love but haven't been getting enough of: travel, adventure, nature, real human connections, and exciting new experiences. And I wanted to offer this package up for those feeling the same way as I, so we could gather and fill up our empty cups together.
I read "The Summer Day" by Mary Oliver for the first time in high school, before the internet and smartphones were a thing. I thought it was the most beautiful poem I had ever read. Her words reminded me of how little I had experienced in this big, beautiful world and how little time I actually have to do so. To this day, I am still profoundly moved by her words. I am reminded of them each time I sit in the sun, feeling the warm rays on my skin and every time I sit on my back porch gazing up at the moon. It is in these moments that I genuinely feel blessed in my idleness. It's so easy to forget to take the time away from all the distractions at our fingertips to be present with the beauty of the Earth, doing nothing but admiring her gifts to us.
My best memories don't include social media posts or exchanges. They're experiences of traveling by planes and ships and taking long road trips with friends and family. My memories of stepping foot on Irish soil for the first time and traveling all across the world to spend time in Bali by myself still fill me with excitement and gratitude. I remember seeing the beauty of the Swiss Alps with my own eyes and eating gelato, pasta, and "fish of the lake" in Italy. (We could never get a straight answer when we asked what kind of fish we were eating, it was just fish of the lake!) I remember the people I met and the experiences we shared. From the seventeen strangers I shared a home with during a Tony Robbins convention in Chicago to my guide and driver in Indonesia. I'm grateful that the internet has allowed me to stay in touch with many of these people I had real-life connections with as we parted ways back to our respective states and countries.
I look back fondly on all the summer canoe trips, camping weekends, trail hikes, fireside conversations, and drives through the gorgeous countryside of Tennessee. I remember wild encounters with deer, snakes, dolphins, monkeys, and stingrays. And I remember laughing so hard I had tears streaming down my face as I lay by a river gazing up at the stars with my friends among the chorus of bullfrogs.
Who made the world and all the landscapes and creatures on it? I do not have that answer. But I know that every time I get out there, to new places and familiar ones, with new people or old friends, I feel closer to understanding the truth. Our short time here is a gift. And our experiences are what makes it so magical.
So tell me, what will you do with your one wild and precious life?
Jennifer at Lempuyang Temple in Bali, Indonesia