You do not have to be good

I began the process of sorting through all of my stuff today in an effort to make the transition from traveling bum to stationary worker bee. The process is always filled with emotion for me. I feel guilt over having piles at all, nostalgia over college textbooks and old love letters and confusion as I try to discern what I actually need. Especially after living out of a backpack for a few months, I feel overwhelmed by my choice of clothes, equipment, and books. It did not take long for me to realize that what I really needed for this process were several large garbage bags. It always feels good to purge my storage bins of unneeded items. I feel like the weight of those things is lifted from my back. One day I will widdle down my pile of belongings to just the essentials, as soon as I figure out what those are of course.

One of the best parts of going through old things however is stumbling on things you have forgotten about. Old pictures, team t-shirts, silly cards from old friends and glass angels marking each year of my childhood are just a few of the things tucked away in my mothers basement. I also found a book of poems in which I first discovered Mary Oliver.  She always seems to know what to say.

sunset over ocean

sunset over ocean, inside passage, Alaska

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.


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