Wild Geese
 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.

The poem “Wild Geese,” which I ran across most recently in the blog Pause, must be one of Mary Oliver’s most beloved and most frequently quoted from poems. Obviously, it touches a common cord in many people.

No matter how many times I run across that poem, it hits me anew, meaning different things, depending on my circumstances, but always reaching that part of me that feels separate from the rest of the world.

“Don’t spend time beating on a wall, hoping to transform it into a door.” — Chanel

I saw that Chanel quote in Theodora Goss’s blog post “Thinking About Chanel”. Theodora agreed with this quote to a point but also concludes that “sometimes you need to break through the wall and turn it into a door, and sometimes that is indeed possible. So just keep the possibility in mind.”

So maybe I can make a little suburban yard appear to be country acreage?

One of the things I’ve been pondering lately is my writing aspirations. I don’t seem to actually want to write and publish a book. Otherwise, wouldn’t I have written one by now?

I most enjoy writing whatever comes to mind, when it comes to mind, and be done with it – the way I can on a blog or in an essay.

To write a book takes focus, planning, organization, sticking to the story, putting in lots of time on it, and then reworking the draft when it’s finally done.

Trying to publish leads to a whole new set of demands and frustrations. Then there is the attempt to actually market the book and get people to buy it.

All too frequently, writing a book leads to rejection and having a pile of papers in a box under your bed. Even if the book is successful, most people have to have a second job to get by. 
Most book writers write because they can’t not write, and publishing a book will get their creation out into reader’s hands and it can all be very wonderful when it works out.

I write for those same reasons, but it has nothing to do with the desire to write a book. For me, writing a book is a way to make something positive come out of a crappy event in my life.

I couldn’t find enough time to write a book while I was married. The plan was to retire next year, and then I could write during the day without causing problems. Of course not writing caused it’s own set of problems, like resentment.

Now, I can spend my time however I want to. I can write the book I wanted to write 11 years ago. But I keep changing my mind about which book to write and so the writing goes nowhere.

Writing is so many things to me:

  • A record to remember where I’ve been and how far I’ve come, 
  • A way to find humor in hard times.
  • A way to entertain people, which makes me feel happy.
  • A way to figure things out by exploring ideas and feelings.
  • A way of talking myself out of stinkin’ thinkin’.
  • A way of sharing stories and finding common human experiences — that connection to people that I long for.

That’s some of what writing is to me is. While a book is something that can stand up and dance and declare that I’m exactly where I should be, doing exactly what I was meant to do, because Look! See! A book has been born!

I have this crazy idea that writing a book might open up a new world and a new life, or it might not do anything at all, but there is some kind of hope in the possibility.

Maybe I just think it will mean my life meant something. That I did something. That maybe something I wrote would be read and touch someone, and then all the hurt would somehow turn into something maybe not good, but okay.

Boy, it took me a lot of words to explain that, which probably means something in itself.

“the world offers itself to your imagination”

I keep trying different things in hopes of finding a way of being that is better.  Of course, that’s talking about “doing” again, rather than “being”. But I keep hoping a switch will be turned, something will click, and I’ll feel without a doubt that I’m on the right path.

I feel as though I’ve become tiresome, doing this same old song and dance, and a few have already left the  dance floor. I don’t know what I’m going to do to quit going in circles. I’m hoping to rethink a few things, refocus some, and hopefully you’ll see some changes soon.

There is an unseen life that dreams us.  It knows our true direction and destiny.  We can trust ourselves more than we realize and we need have no fear of change.  ~John O’Donohue

Meredith: “After a trauma, your body is at its most vulnerable. Response time is critical. So you’re suddenly surrounded by people—doctors, nurses, specialists, technicians—surgery is a team sport. Everyone pushing for the finish line. Putting you back together again. But surgery is a trauma in and of itself, and once it’s over, the real healing begins. It’s called recovery. Recovery is not a team sport. It’s a solitary distance run. It’s long. It’s exhausting. And it’s lonely as hell.” — Grey’s Anatomy, season 7 episode 19

It’s been awhile since I’ve done a Grey’s Anatomy quote but that one seemed to fit with today’s post.

When I took a walk at Rum River on Saturday, the peepers were going full bore in the wetland areas.

It about made me cry I miss them so badly — that sound that comes every Spring. And sand cranes — I miss hearing sand cranes calling as they fly over and seeing them dance in the neighboring fields.

I’ve figured out how to fake myself out on some of the things I miss, but I can’t pretend and fool myself on everything.

I get angry and frustrated at how much these things hurt. Am I doing this to myself? How do I stop it? How do I find beauty and peace in this life that I feel so stuck and trapped and imprisoned by?!

I want to scream, “This is not me! Why am I here? In this place? Alone. Why have I ended up with the opposite of what I wanted?”

Okay, I do have a horse and dogs. Be thankful for that. And I am. Sort of thankful. Kind of grateful for the things that aren’t lost, like my job and friends, and I’m lucky to have been able to buy a house.

Yet, I have not found a way to stop feeling the grief over the loss of things that used to lift me up and make me smile, the ones that warmed me like a quilt and made me feel safely home.

Even some of the new comforts have gone astray. I haven’t heard or seen my owls for weeks. They were my consolation, my night companions, filling in some of the gap between old and new life.

I looked forward to seeing or at least hearing them every day. The lack of their presence is so pervasive, It’s surprising, even to me, how much I miss them. Perhaps they’ve gone somewhere to nest and I won’t see them again until their babies are grown.

It’s been two years and the trauma still feels fresh. I didn’t expect that. I’m strong, right? I’m brave. I’m good at picking myself up and going on. So why?

Why, I guess, doesn’t matter. Perhaps inside, I am like this pile of debris that the river carries in springtime’s high, fast waters.

Logs, twigs, muck, and trash hang up in the shallows — more and more pieces keep piling into and onto the mound.

I need to stop piling garbage on top of myself, despising everything about me, quit considering myself and my life a failure, and stop reminding myself that if I had a choice, I would leave me too.

Maybe the assignment now, in this new life, is to not depend on anyone else to make up for what I lack or don’t like in myself. I have something…  My friends see it. But I can’t. Not yet anyway.

I perhaps sound like a broken record with some of these things that I say, but I guess I will keep repeating what I need to hear, over and over, until I finally listen.

If I am going to pull through this with more than a grunt and a just getting by life, this is the time for me to pursue some of the adventures I’ve dreamed of. This is the time to be a writer, to take that identity fully on. To be visible as me, not as what I think someone wants me to be, or as someone who gets through the door because of who they are attached to.

This is the time to believe I can do something that will amaze at least me — if not anyone else.

Some dreams are a bit harder now. Funds are tighter. Gas is way more expensive. And I’m older and often don’t have the energy to do everything I want to do. But maybe the adventure is mainly in the mind anyway — in venturing outside myself and my fears and judgement.

These trees remind me of myself, stooped over, shoulders hunched with shame over mistakes and lost opportunities.

Busy looking at the ground and missing the beautiful sky right above me.

I have the right to not only take up space, but to fill the space that opens up for me.
I don’t believe that yet, but I’ll keep repeating the words until I do.

Meredith: “The length of your recovery is determined by the extent of your injuries. And it’s not always successful. No matter how hard we work at it. Some wounds might never fully heal. You might have to adjust to a whole new way of living. Things may have changed too radically to ever go back to what they were. You might not even recognize yourself. It’s like you haven’t recovered anything at all. You’re a whole new person with a whole new life.”

April is just about over. Only one more poem to go after this one. Although it’s been quite the challenge, I’ve had fun so I think I’ll still throw poems into my posts, maybe once a week. The month of May I’m declaring as Focus on Healthy Habits month. Yee Haw! Doesn’t that sound fun!

I’m going to do at least one purposely healthy thing a day. The plan is to make these actions accumulative to build some better habits so I have more energy and feel better. Like one day I’ll make sure to go to bed on time, another day I’ll go to a yoga class, another day I’ll go for a bike ride, and so on.

And in May, I also will switch my writing focus back to my book. Mary Carroll Moore’s book  “Your Book Starts Here” with all it’s information on creating, crafting, and selling your first book will help me get started. I’ve taken a class with Mary before, plus I follow her blog, and she really is good at helping writer’s get through the process of writing a book.

Last Wednesday was a tough day. My neck has been bothering me, so I went to the chiropractor who told me how inflamed my thready, scarred shoulder and neck muscles are. So? What’s new? He did his thing which hurt like hell! But is supposed to help loosen things ups. We’ll see… So far, it just feels like some big lug used my back and neck as a punching bag.

Anyway, enough complaining. I’m reading a book called “When Love Meets Fear” by David Richo. The book advises me that I need to sit with my feelings and just let them happen rather than eat an entire tub of Ben and Jerry’s Coffee and Heath Bar ice cream. So that’s what I’m trying to do. Just sit, breathe, and sip a cup of tea.

Deep breaths
Deep breaths
In and out
Deep breaths
I need to turn this
Turn this
Up and downed
One more day
Made it
How many more?
I have learned
To play act
To appease
The days
One day
It won’t be
Like this
One day
The lost place 
Of being
The missing
It will fade
And end
I’ll be happy
For real
For longer
Long periods
Of time
Of time
One day
It will happen
In and out

(Java looks like she needs to take some deep breaths too. Poor girl…)
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