One of Mary Oliver’s poems, “Wild Geese” may be a universal favorite and is often quoted, as it is here below. But first, I wanted to reflect on why it is so popular.
I think it might be because many of us women are used to blaming ourselves for everything under the sun when someone we know is unhappy. Especially, if we also happen to be mothers. We will go to inordinate lengths to make others feel all right again even when we are bruised ourselves.
But never mind. The most important thing to do is to brush away crumbs of conflict. We put away our little heart-shaped box of true feelings that escaped for awhile ~ as though we didn’t really have a right to have them in the first place. If I’m the only one who experiences this phenomenom, then please tell me otherwise.
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 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.
~ Mary Oliver ~