You do not have to be good

Photo by Steven David Johnson

I've been trying to cultivate a gratitude practice. Tonight in class, I was disappointed with my students. I told them so, left them to their peer workshop and went out to my car to retrieve the forgotten water bottle. I figured I would give them time to talk about my speech about "being in college to grow" amongst themselves.

I came outside to perfect evening: clean, light air; the sun giving up its embers to dusk; a line of geese. 

I breathed. I was grateful. I thought of this poem, made for this moment, and how I love having it (mostly) committed to memory. So many things to be grateful for.

Wild Geese 
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.
 . . .

I went back into the classroom. I was kind. I gave compassion. I praised. It was good.

. . . more 31 days posts . . .

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