You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
For a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
Tell me about your despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting —
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.
Wild Geese by Mary Oliver has been one of my favorite poems for years. It always makes me think of two things:
- To be unapologetically yourself
- The power of vulnerability
The poem starts of saying that you don’t have to be good or live your life on your knees. Whoever you are and what ever you have done you don’t need to apologize for. Which is an important message most of us need to hear. We spend so much time trying to fix the past that it can stop us from moving forward. No one’s perfect, but the key to growth is understanding who you’ve been, who you are, who you want to be, and not letting anything stand in the way.
I’ve said for years ‘you get what you put out’ and that’s reiterated by Oliver in the line “Tell me about your despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.” There’s no point in denying it- we’re all fucked up in one way or another. Each of us has been hurt, broke, and remade. Each of us has been (and will continue to be) met with challenges and hardships. We will be hurt and broken, over and over again. But we must not be afraid to show that side of ourselves to the world. The deepest connections and bonds you’ll forge with people are when they open up and let you glimpse the brokenness underneath. At some point in our lives, each of us will be broken and need someone to help us heal.
Each time I read Wild Geese it reminds me to stay true to myself and not be afraid to show what I’m really feeling.
What does it make you think of?