How will you show up to a world that needs you? A book review of This One Wild and Precious Life

What will you do with your one wild and precious life?

The second book from Sydney-based writer Sarah Wilson – This One Wild and Precious Life: A Hopeful Path Forward in a Fractured World – is the book we all need to read, right now.

Sarah offers a rallying call to fight for our world – to wake up from autopilot and inaction, and to start taking responsibility today. To meet the discomfort of our times, rather than look away or ignore it, and to show up for ourselves, for others, and for our world – to make choices that will benefit all of us, rather than ourselves in that moment.

She touches upon some of the big stuff – loneliness, mental health, the climate crisis, our capitalist system and what it’s doing to us, technology, consumerism, and so much more – but rather than be preachy about it, she’s laying it all out bare – for us to think and figure out for ourselves how we’ll show up – whether we’ll choose to avoid the challenges of our time, or be brave and confront them. 

Some of the most honest, open and resonant chapters for me were:

The C-bomb – “We can swirl around finding ways to explain away our human smallness and moral asleepness, our loneliness and tediously awkward courtship behaviour and how it can be that we live in a world that can track our every consumer behaviour from a virtual cloud but fail to save its citizens from a virus that has been predicted for years because it can’t produce enough simple cloth face masks. But eventually all roads lead back to the broken system we find ourselves in. Ready for the C-bomb? That broken system is capitalism.”

Go to your edge – “Each time I have reached my edge, when I felt myself resist and start to ask the unbeautiful questions like, ‘Why me?’ ‘Why is life so unfair?’ ‘Why isn’t anyone else fixing this?’ I stop and ask, more beautifully, ‘What if this pain is just life, and I’m being brought back to it?’ Pema Chodron says: ‘We use these situations either to wake ourselves up or to put ourselves to sleep.’”

Show up to your appointment – “There’s a wisdom from Jungian psychologist and prolific author James Hollis that haunts me. He says that eventually, once we’re connected and informed enough, our soul will call us to an appointment with life.”

Start where you are – “You start. Then it spreads. Action begets action. Care begets care.”

I could go on. What I take deeply within me may be different to what you do, but Sarah’s message is one we all need to hear, right now. It’s a message of hope in a world that seems to be breaking; it’s a message of connection when all around us is disconnection; it’s a message of choosing to wake up and take action, at a time when there are many people who would prefer to choose avoidance and numbness rather than diving deeper. Rather than going to their edge.

Together with her ideas for a better world, Sarah weaves her own personal life lessons, experiences, hikes around the world, encounters with strangers, challenges with mental health, and thoughts – you hear the fire of her awakening throughout this work.

“I’ve landed here after a series of the most monumental rabbit hole dives, painful explorations and rolling, wild hikes of my life with a deep, aching understanding that we are all in fact more connected than we realise. We all feel stuck. And we are all struggling to cope. We have been split apart and it’s time we’re split back together again. We are ready.”

“I have been asked repeatedly, ‘Do you have hope?’ Hell, yes, I do. But this hope I have, it’s a radical kind of hope…. Unlike pessimism and optimism, hope necessitates action. Hope is a magical, suspended state of becoming, between what is and what our souls know to be right. We don’t float in hope, we actively swim towards the congruence, tugged by the current of truth. To hope is our nature.” 

This review doesn’t do this book justice. Read this book. Step out of autopilot and recognise that your world needs you more than ever. Informed. Engaged. Connected. Fired Up.


This One Wild and Precious Life
Sarah Wilson
Pan Macmillan Australia
RRP $34.99

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