One of my favorite quotes is from Henry David Thoreau: “All good things are wild and free.” You’ve probably come across it on Pinterest, a shirt, or a tattoo. It’s a popular one!
Why the popularity? I think we’re all just itching to feel both of those things: wild and free. We know we take life too seriously, but we can’t help it. We don’t know HOW to feel those things, which is, I think, why we lust for travel – it allows us to have a glimpse into another version of ourselves. A version that is probably a lot closer to who we really are.
I’ve been contemplating this quote and why I’m so drawn to it for a while now, and it came together recently when I re-read the book “Personhood,” by the late author Leo Buscaglia. In it describes his parents (my heroes):
“My mother and father lived instinctively in the knowledge that life and living were arts to be celebrated. From outward appearances, they would seem to have little reason for celebration. They were penniless Italian immigrants attempting to make a new life in a friendless foreign land. They had neither the language nor sophistication to adapt easily to their newly chosen culture, but they took up the challenge with gusto, abandonment, love, faith, and a great deal of humor.”
He goes on to describe their love of simplicity – their morning coffee, their arm in arm strolls in the evening – simple pleasures intertwined with hard work. And when they aged, it was no surprise that they handled that season gracefully. They understood death, and all it encompassed was a part of life. In fact, when his father became blind from illness, he said, “It’s all right. If I’m given a little more time, I know my way in the garden, and I can still feed the birds.”
Buscaglia describes it as growing up in a “life-filled setting.” Life-filled. Let that sink in and think about what it means to you.
Wild and Free in a Life-Filled Setting
To me, it’s the interconnection of love and life. One can exist without the other, but the two together make for a life well-lived.
How many people are living in life-filled settings? Are you? I know that I struggle with this every day because too many bad things happen to good people. To people who have done nothing wrong, but have simply been born in a different country, to a different family. It’s overwhelming, and I have to admit, most of the time, I feel overwhelmed and frustrated.
But sometimes, when I look in the mirror, I see myself as an older woman. Skin a little loose but soft, warm eyes that are filled with love for the generations of children that I played a role in creating, and a hint of sadness from the losses that are so inevitable throughout life. Seeing myself, down the road, is the push I need to bring me back to now, to my children young but growing, my house chaotic and messy, but filled with life. It brings me back to appreciating the little things like Buscaglia describes.
There are challenging times, yes. Times where we need to be serious. Times where bad things happen to good people, and it’s stressful and awful and tragic. But most of the time, we can probably loosen up a bit. Try to experience wild and free every day. Over a meal with good friends. During a game of tag with your kids. While strolling down the street, arm in arm with your partner. Every single day.
How do you pepper “life” into your everyday world?