My Favorite Words

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 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.

This poem helped me through some incredibly hard times. I still tear up a little every single time I read it. Partially from the power of the words and partially from the memory of the pain I was feeling at the time when it helped me most.

We are so lucky to have people in this world who can use their words to bring us comfort and peace. Who can help us feel just a little bit less alone with their words. To remind us of the beauty and wonder that exist in this world even when it feels dark and grey.

Mary Oliver was one of the best and I am so glad that I discovered her words at a time when I needed them. I am so glad that she shared her outlook and her beautiful, powerful words with the world. I am so glad she helped me through one of the darkest times of my life.

Remember that your words have power too. They have the ability to help another human feel connected, or necessary, or beautiful, or loved. They do not have to be beautiful and fancy. They just need to be kind and honest.

Kind words are a thing the world could use more of right now.

I’ll leave you with one more peace of advice from Mary:

Instructions for living a life:

Pay attention.

Be astonished.

Tell about it.

The world lost a wise beautiful soul today. Rest in peace Mary Oliver, you will be missed.

Love to you all. The unconditional kind.