wild geese

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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 â€"
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.

Wild Geese by Mary Oliver

Thanks for the poem. It's beautiful. I need to pick up a volume of Mary Oliver's poetry and sit down with a cup of hot tea.

Nothing like laying it all out there on your blog to make you feel exposed. That's how I'm feeling right now. Vulnerable. And kicking myself for the post. But at the same time, so very thankful for all of your wonderful comments and encouragement and ideas.

Thank you.

Thank you.

Thank you.

I might take a little blogging break. Not sure if it'll be two days or two weeks. When my house gets too messy, I don't usually invite people over until I clean up a bit. And I'm feeling that way about my life right now. It's a little too messy to invite you all in right now. I need to regain my composure and a little balance. I hope you understand.

XOXO, Jean

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  1. says

    I love that poem! Good luck with taking some time to gather your thoughts. You mention in your previous post some books you’ve been looking at. Have you tried The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron? For someone creative and artistic like you it seems to be a perfect fit. It’s a program with a chapter and exercises for each week and is absolutely transformative if you follow it, even if you don’t do all the exercises. Also, just wanted to say that what you already do–bring up a happy child, inspire hundreds of parents and artists through this blog, keep a pretty home makes me think you’re pretty on top of it! : )

  2. says

    I love this poem. It got me through some tough times of my own. I posted it on my blog, too, months ago.
    I think this is one poem that should remain in circulation about the blogosphere.
    Take it easy.
    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.

  3. says

    What a nice poem!
    Take your time “cleaning” up :)
    And you do that! Go get that book and have yourself a cup of nice warm tea :)
    ‘Til you post again * * *

  4. says

    I’m right there with ya! Your post from the other day really resonated with me. I sometimes go to other people’s houses and wonder how they manage to keep everything together. It’s like they’re real adults and I’m not. I still haven’t finished turning my baby’s room from a studio into a nursery and she’s 7 months old!
    I’m in “get it together” mode right now.
    Good luck to you. I can totally empathize.

  5. says

    A few months ago I took a volume of Mary Oliver’s poetry to a local bookstore/bakery and sat down with tea. I was by myself. I wrote in my journal, too and allowed myself to dream. It felt so decadent, and so fulfilling! Do it! :)
    I hear you about feeling vulnerable about your last blog. But I hope you don’t panic about that. It looks to me like you have a lot of support and empathy out here in blog land. I have been thinking lately about the power of story to build community and healing. By being vulnerable with our painful stories, we open up to others who have similar stories, or just can relate to us better. Then we can build deeper, stronger relationships. It takes a lot of courage to be as vulnerable as you have been, but just look at everyone who can relate to you! But if blogging doesn’t feel supportive to you right now, then don’t do it. Just know that there are people who are really interested in your journey, and would be there beside you along the way.

  6. Amy says

    Thank you, Jean, for your honesty, your openness, your insight.
    I love that you have Mary Oliver with you. Her work has given me new hope in very trying times in my life. Her words have even inspired me to make radical life changes. One thought: know that you can trust your own voice.
    From The House, by Mary Oliver:
    …Day after day
    I labor at it;
    night after night
    I keep going —
    I’m clearing new ground,
    I’m lugging boards,
    I’m measuring,
    I’m hanging sheets f glass,
    I’m nailing down the hardwoods,
    the thresholds —
    I’m hinging the doors —
    once they are up they will lift
    their easy latches, they will open
    like wings.

  7. says

    I can very much relate to your recent posts and understand your desire to pull back and look within. But please know that it is your honesty and willingness to share the joys AND the challenges of life that keep me coming back.
    Thank you for ALL that you are!!!

  8. Emily says

    I loved that rant! it’s exactly how I feel! I’m so grateful you shared it. thank you.
    be well,

  9. Julia says

    I get an email daily devotional from the Upper Room. I’m not really religous, but those emails give me comfort. I read this one today and thought it might help. We’re all at different points in our lives. Even if some things are similar, we’ve all had many different experiences that make us so unique. It’s very hard to compare yourself. Don’t beat yourself up. Reframe your thoughts.
    “AS a new Christian, I compared myself to other Christians. I felt I wasn’t good enough. I was sure I was a disappointment to God.
    Then one September day, my little wattle tree bloomed for the first time. I was so excited to see the early blossoms that I took my son to share the moment with me.
    Next to that little tree was a more established wattle tree. At this time, it was big, bushy, and in full bloom. It was beautiful. I took great pride in that big wattle tree. However, I took as much pride in the smaller wattle tree that was beginning to bloom.
    As I looked at my two trees, one beautiful and established, the other smaller but starting to bloom, I realized that God sees us in a similar way. Yes, God rejoices in established Christians who have grown in their faith and are producing an abundance of fruit. But I am sure God rejoices just as much in new Christians who are beginning to grow.”
    Liz Palmer (New South Wales, Australia)
    I’ve been reading your blog for a couple of months now and I’ve often thought how you have everything together in your life! You have a wonderful little girl that you are raising, yet you make the time to share art with other kids, too. You have your blog that reaches so many people- more than you know. So, thanks for all you’ve shared on your blog- I’ve enjoyed reading it and trying some of the art projects with my kids. I wish you the best and hope you have restful and contented days ahead.

  10. says

    Sometimes I think “faking it” is all we can really do. For who really knows how this whole life thing is supposed to be played out. We all just have our own version, our own interpretation, some people seem to have more detailed, complicated scripts than others. I spent my late 20’s and 30’s asking similar questions to yours. Now, in my early 40’s I still sometimes ask them, but no longer expect a finite answer. I’m also finding less self help and more fiction to be the ticket to bliss.

  11. says

    NO – THANK YOU! Your last post came exactly when I needed it. I have had similar feelings of late. I know exactly what you mean about ‘faking it’, although i’m trying to seeing it as ‘winging it’. Parenting is hard. Perhaps it would be easier if that’s all we had to do, and if other people stopped faking it too! I’ve had a skim through some of the book recommendations and i’m going to get myself a few. And I love your list of things worth living for.

  12. says

    I hear you. I’m on my own blogging break right now – going on 2 weeks. I feel a little withdrawal/sadness from not getting those comments coming in every day, but I so desparately need to get my life in order without stressing about the blogging world. Lots of changes happening here, and some sad.
    Hope you find what you are looking for.

  13. says

    Great to find you, and yes, when things get out of order or messy I find the need to hunker down and get things done, too.
    I’ll be back.

  14. says

    Jean — I hope all is well with you and the blogging break is restful. Just wanted to let you know (in a not-putting-pressure-on-you way) that your writings and ideas are missed. All the best to you and the family…

  15. says

    one of my favorite poems of all time. the essence of compassion.
    thank you for reminding me that i need to reread this more often.

  16. says

    My youngest loves Mary Oliver. As in, when she was an infant and I would read aloud while nursing, it was Mary Oliver or Pablo Neruda or nothing. Beautiful poem. Just found your blog and love the inspirations…and hope that you had a nice break…