Animal

March 26, 2011 § 4 Comments

Oliver and I on the beach in Ventura

It rained this week and the temperature dropped from 70 to 40. March: the time of shadows and great shifts. Wind. The boys and I stayed inside during the rainstorms, although as soon as the skies cleared, I bundled them in coats and made them do wind sprints around the traffic circle at the end of our block. It was that kind of week, that kind of preschool boy energy.

What has been on my mind lately is change. How difficult it is for me to drop old habits, old ways of thinking. I wish I could stay in that sacred space for longer than an hour or two. I wish I could stay hooked up to that divine spirit, the place that always feels like home to me. I wish my own personal transformations were as easy as winter turning to spring. But then, I think, even winter doesn’t always turn to spring so gracefully. It’s going to snow tonight and our little garden is covered with tarps and cardboard. Perhaps change – like the seasons – takes two steps forward and a step back.

Today, I decided to let myself off the hook. I decided to let the entire world off the hook for a change. I think of what Claire Dederer wrote in “Poser” about how motherhood became a “Goodness Project” for her. I think of how hard we all try to be good and that maybe, I would have an easier time with change if I learned how to surrender more and try a little less. A few weeks ago, the fields near our house were filled with Canadian Geese on their way north. Those good animals, who without trying at all, fly in perfect formation.

And now, I am going to hand it over to Mary Oliver.

Wild Geese
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.

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