Wednesday, November 14, 2018

You do not have to be good

Someone I dated briefly implied to me, when we were breaking up, that I wasn’t ambitious enough. That because I hadn’t written or directed anything in the time we’d been together, I was somehow lacking.

And this has stayed with me.

And stayed with me.

And stays with me.

It climbs into my bed at night and shares my shower in the morning.

It whispers to me as I sit on the couch, eating popcorn and drinking wine, after a day spent writing words for other people.

It’s under my skin and in my pores. I stink of it.

It’s eating at me in that way only artistic doubts can. Thrown out so carelessly by someone who exists on another plane of society. Where jobs are easier to find. Where hard work and talent logically lead to employment. Where employment equals money. Where professional success is not so intrinsically linked to emotion and vulnerability.

And despite being told by friends that my drive is inspiring, despite being approached by strangers in the industry for advice on how to juggle two careers, despite owning 2 homes as a single, female artist… I can’t shake this feeling of finally having been found out. With one statement, I’ve been reduced to a place where I question all I’ve achieved in life. And how much I matter.

Which I concede is more a result of how I, as an artist, view myself, than any cruel intention on his part. And is possibly also tied to several massive changes in my life over the past 18 months.

But still.

And so reading this wonderful article today by Ann Dowd, and through that, finding this poem by Mary Oliver, is the greatest gift the internet has given me recently.

Thanks world. Sometimes you know exactly what I need.

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.