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
Despair is an odd word when you think about it.
And it sounds, well, sad and negative in one way, “despair.” Say it a few times to yourself: despair, despair, despair. I don’t usually think of despair as helping me find my way in the family of things and yet, yet it does help us find our way. Because love and grief are companions.
And, we know we all have grief, we all have despair.
In fact today as I cruised Facebook there were two posts by two friends who run in different circles whose basic message was this: Life is challenging, for all of us. So we are not as alone as we feel when we are in the challenge.
So I share my despair, often, here. And I do so because I know what is mine is yours. And I know I don’t have to be good. And I do know love. And because I know it, with all its hurts and challenges, I share about it because that is my healing, that is our healing.
I am finding my place all over again. And I am finding that I am lost. But knowing I don’t know frees me. Knowing I don’t know gives my prayers feathers and my heart light. Knowing every day I begin again creates a compass so I see the sun in the morning and the moon at night. Knowing the slate can be erased when my head hits the pillow helps me loosen my dreams into the ether and balance my breath in space when I don’t know I breathe.
I have a theory that everything we do, we do to create balance.
And these days I am either doing too much or recovering from having done too much. These days I need to do what I must for that balance. Some days that is writing. Some days it is eating. Some days it is asana. Some days it is too much coffee and others, just one cup.
My kitties are endless comfort. The television’s noise keeps me company. I am making new friends. I am trying new things to pay bills.
I don’t have enough and I have more than most.
I am finding my place in my heart. I am crying when I need to and laughing when I can.
I learned today my mom of 87 years has ovarian cancer. But she is 87 and that in itself is a gift.
My life is full. My dreams keep blooming. My asana practice is lacking but my classes are growing. My heart deepens. Feeling gets fuller. I grow stronger and how I am overflows, because my beginnings are more than I can hold, so I let go and nestle my need on the belly of my kitty, and know not knowing is the ticket that is going to keep me going.
I don’t need to arrive. I am not in the driver’s seat. But the views out the window keep showing me I don’t know and relieving me of what I do.
Love elephant and want to go steady?
Editor: Rachel Nussbaum
Photo Credit: Flickr Creative Commons