In the most recent issue of The Sun magazine, there’s an interview with Ran Ortner, an ocean landscape artist. It’s a powerful and thought-provoking interview, and in it Ortner says this: “… we come with an expiration date. We already know we’re going to break down and crash. There’s something liberating about that. This is our moment in the sun. Let’s dance.”
There are countless quotes about life and death; about our mortality; about living life to the fullest, but this one struck me — perhaps because Ortner describes our mortality as liberating. We are free to embrace our moment in the sun largely because it is just that: a moment.
In her poem, “The Summer Day,” Mary Oliver ends with this provocative question: “Tell me, what is it you plan to do/ with your one wild and precious life?”
Wild and precious. Our moment in the sun. Our time to dance.
What does it mean to dance? What does it mean to plan to do something? To me, this combination of celebrating life (what else is dance but such a celebration?) and planfulness is key to seizing our moment in the sun; the recipe for a life of meaning and purpose and joy. Recognizing our brief moment in the sun and “dancing” our lives is a path toward living in the present moment, fully alive, fully grateful, fully here. And recognizing that there are things to do, things to plan for this brief time offers a path toward meaning and purpose without which the setting sun may come upon us one day and catch us unawares with regret for what we did or didn’t do.
Each of us has a contribution to make, and many of our contributions take time to hone and cultivate, years of preparation and study and hard work. Can we find that balance in which we live fully in the present, fulfilling the plans we make to ensure that to the best of our ability our moment in the sun is worthy of our talents, passions, and dreams? Can we dance with abandon even as we craft the vision of our lives and follow our course steadfastly? There’s no contradiction here; rather we can find in this seeming paradox the liberation I believe Ortner speaks of.
For each wild and precious life,
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