Sometime ago I was driving home, a six or seven hour drive. The visit had been hard, harsh, full of my pain suppressed so others could be absorbed, full of recriminations and accusations of being unkind. I was in a numb place and desperately needed to remember who I was, but I was long gone. As I drove through the night, the long ribbon of the road in front of me, I needed some kind of fuel to help me. I heard the words wild geese in my head. And I was smart enough to listen.
I called my friend Robert and asked him to read me this poem. Without asking why, he did. I cried. He read it again. I thanked him. I got home.
Thank you Robert.
by Mary Oliver
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.