Every once in a while, you stumble across some kind of art that says the exact thing you need to hear at exactly the right time. I remember, one night, feeling a little bit pressed down by my own expectations and the illusion of a hundred broken pieces in my life that I thought I had to pick up by myself. I was reading excessively, trying to find something grounding to settle my crazy, speeding thoughts.
I found this poem right in the middle of all of that. It didn’t fix anything, really, but it made me stop and breathe for a minute. It also reminded me of one of my cardinal rules in life: Be Gentle With Your Self.
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 rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
and 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.