Two Hundred Fifty-One

This blog is going to be a work in progress. Like me. I was an English major, so I will be editing a lot, sometimes after I write. For example, I was mortified to be notified of a homonymic misspelling in the last entry–and, worse, my mistaken word use was key to my cute little pun-ny sentence. But, as per usual, I was too cute by half. It is remedied now, thanks to a kind nudging of a friend (thanks, Brum-be-low!). I can hear Dr. Alice Hines sing-song her corrections through her red-inked pen, “Now, Miss Hamilton.”

As this exercise is a learning experience for me, I’m including this error as part of the journey. One of my biggest roadblocks–self-placed, as most of them are–is the aim for perfection. My perfectionism has been one of my many excuses for not doing something that whispered to me. I’ll be embarrassed, or ashamed, or, worse: wrong. I’ll miss a note, or show some cellulite, or use the wrong word, or words, and people will see me for what I really am.

The perfect moment, the perfect partner, the perfect performance, the perfect words–I know none of them exist, though passages of The History of Love by Nicole Krauss and many of Mary Oliver’s poems come pretty close in my book. Do/did they think their works are perfect? Or if not in their entirety, perhaps some passages? I wonder if they read back over their works and thought, “If only I’d used ‘spirited’ instead of ‘vigorous.'”

They probably did. And yet, they wrote anyway. And thank god they did. The world would be a lot less perfect without their not-quite perfect words.

I am not in the same class as Mary Oliver or Nicole Krauss. I haven’t tried to be. To date, I haven’t been courageous enough to put words on paper (or blog) for the world (or a few good friends) to see me in all my imperfect ingloriousness. I often say that I have an artist’s spirit without an art, but that is a coward’s excuse. Though Dr. Hines might raise an eyebrow at me, I posit that to become is an action verb, and with all action comes the potential to be great or to fail or to be just okay. Or to use the wrong word in a magnificently failed pun. But the next effort just might be beautiful.

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 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

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