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

You do not have to be good.

Indeed.

You can be mediocre.

You can fail to capture the attention of hoards of admirers.

You can struggle all of your life to create a masterpiece and then leave it, at the end of your life, unfinished.

You might never get your book published.

Your business might never bring in more than $1000 a year.

You might not get that masters degree you always dreamed of getting.

You may not make it to the Olympics.

You might die without a penny to your name.

It doesn’t matter.

All of those measures of “success” are not important. They are the measures that we have arbitrarily attached to our efforts because we feel the need for yardsticks and goalposts.

But what if there are no yardsticks and goalposts? What if life is not a competition? What if the only winner is the person who lived well? What if the journey is the destination?

What if, at the end of your days, the only thing that matters is that you were faithful to your gift and your calling?

What if the only measurement you need to concern yourself with is whether or not you kept walking?

What if the only thing that’s important is that you let the “soft animal of your body love what it loves”?

Yes. This.

It’s about love. It’s about the wisdom of the bumblebee as it follows its hunger to the next beautiful flower. It’s about the trust of the wild geese as they follow the migration patterns that call them to their next home.

It’s about the soft animal of your body – the part of you that knows nothing about goal-setting or success, but knows everything about love.

It’s about writing and painting and dancing and laughing and connecting and counting and inventing and problem-solving out of our deep and passionate love for that thing we do. It’s about doing it because we can’t be happy any other way. It’s about trusting the gift to lead us where we need to go. It’s about sharing what we do because we feel compelled and it doesn’t matter what other people think.

The outcome is not your responsibility.

The path is the only goal. One foot in front of the other. Winding, dipping, trusting, falling, surrendering, picking yourself up from the ground and stepping once again.

Your only responsibility is to love what you love. And to be who you are. And to dream what you dream.

Now stop telling yourself you have not succeeded. Are you in love with what you do? Then you have succeeded.

Go ahead and ask the soft animal of your body what it loves.

Pin It on Pinterest

Join my mailing list and receive a free e-book, news of upcoming programs, and a new article every 2 weeks.

Thanks for subscribing!