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.
~Mary Oliver from Wild Geese
The story I tell myself is that I’m not good enough. This story motivates me to do better and be better. What is hasn’t helped me do is to accept being good enough. There are two sides to this. The first is the idea that the things I do can be good enough and the second is that I as a person am good enough just as I am. And what does “good” even mean?
Mary Oliver’s poem is yet another reminder that I don’t need to find perfection in all things. That sometimes “good enough is good enough.” What’s harder is letting go of the word “good” to describe myself. To me, “good” means giving my best in all things all the time. And if I don’t do that, I need to punish myself by working harder until I finally get it right. Oliver reminds me that I need to take the yogic principle of non-violence to heart, accept that I’m human and enjoy my life. I can choose to live a life of joy and abundance; I don’t have to crawl through the desert of life. This is such a freeing and scary idea.
When I treat myself with gentleness and compassion, I hold myself to more realistic expectations. I’m less attached to outcomes and less likely to ignore what I need. I’m also more able to accept others where and as who they are. I don’t have to be good because I’m already good enough. And that feels so good!