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.
Now that I have poetry on my reading list, I’m happy to report that I’m loving it! Yesterday afternoon I decided to take some time off from the activities on my to-do list to enjoy a book, so rather than pick up the novel I’m reading I decided on a book of poetry. This is another one of my favorite poems by Mary Oliver, and yesterday this is the line that seemed to speak directly to me, You only have to let the soft animal of your body love what it loves. It reminds me, sadly I must say, that I no longer feel at home in my body or take the time to really listen to it, and trust its wisdom. Interestingly, I have read this poem many times and have never come away with this feeling, so I guess it’s the message I need to hear now. It’s time to start loving my body again.
It’s also helpful to realize that this very
body that we have right here right
now…with all its aches and its
pleasures…is exactly what we
need to be fully human, fully
awake, fully alive.