01 August 2014

Take care of yourself

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 your 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.

~Mary Oliver

"Take care of yourself," is my favorite way of saying goodbye to someone. I did a semester in Oregon and I had a friend who would always say that as his "goodbye." It was also while doing that semester in Oregon that I was introduced to this poem by Mary Oliver.

I recently remarked to my therapist that a lot of people had been saying, "Take care of yourself," to me lately. She asked me what taking care of myself looked like and I quoted the first stanza of Wild Geese.

You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.

My soft animal has gotten pretty beaten up over the last few weeks. Work has been particularly busy. I've had some tumult in my relationships. I was sick for a week. My evenings have been full of responsibilities. I couldn't even get myself out of bed this morning to go to the gym and I love going to the gym.

I need to take care of myself. To stop walking through the desert on my knees. I need to let the soft animal of my body love what it loves. I need to go for a walk and lay in some grass. I need to relax and let go. This week, I needed to not worry about writing a blog for today.

So, dear reader (Hi, mom!), I hope you can forgive this soft animal for not feeling very interesting or profound this week. I've got a lot of possible topics for next week (the Trinitarian self, on loving my body, the Bible story), but this week I decided that I did not have to be good. That I could give myself some space and time to rest and love what I love.

Take care of yourself.

1 comment:

  1. Love this, Brooke :) I hope you do take care of yourself!!