by Mary Oliver
One day you finally knew
what you had to do, and began,
though the voices around you
their bad advice —
though the whole house
began to tremble
and you felt the old tug
at your ankles.
“Mend my life!”
each voice cried.
But you didn’t stop.
view the whole poem here
This is from one of the earliest poems that helped give me courage to be more of myself, to save the only life I could save, as the final line tells us. Mary Oliver has continued to be such an important teacher for me.
One day you finally knew what you had to do, and began – there comes a time, whether briefly or continuously, when the inner voice that is your own speaks and you hear it. You begin to listen and to act in ways that are meaningful to you, allowing your long-buried self to resurrect and claim its place in the world.
Though the voices around you kept shouting their bad advice – the voices of others, no matter how well-meaning, who tell us from the perspective of their own experience what they think would be right for us.
though the whole house began to tremble and you felt the old tug at your ankles – when the structure that has been how we have been living our life begins to feel unstable, the foundations cracking and we feel the pull of others.
Mend my life! each voice cried – the advice and demands of others to live in ways that will make them more comfortable regardless of our own discomfort.
But you didn’t stop – there comes a time when you are ready to keep going, even if you have to pause before you continue.
What is it you know you have to do? How will you begin or have you already? Can you recognize your own voice keeping you company as you move into the world?