I know what is getting in the way of writing -- I'm a recovering perfectionist and am slipping back into old habits. I need everything to be "right", to be "good", and avoid things if they can't be. It started in 4th grade when I desperately wanted to win the "General Excellence Award" for being the best all-around 4th grade student at my school. I got obsessed and I've been like that every since. Until, of course, Oscar was born and I realized that I couldn't control life. I couldn't be perfect -- there was no such thing. But still it creeps and seeps into my life in odd ways.
Lately I've been reflecting on the fact that my unwillingness to make a mistake, has paralyzed me on many fronts. Writing, talking to Oscar's classmates about PWS, buying a pair of shoes! And how many years now has our house needed a new roof, paint job, floors refinished? How long have we been talking about updating the pink and green kitchen? The purple bathroom with no tiles in the shower so the water just seeps into the walls? But because I am afraid of not getting it "right" (as measured only by me), I have done nothing about any of these tasks. Sure I have the excuse of being busy, but I know what really stands in the way.
So, in honor of National Poetry Month which starts tomorrow, I am going to dig out my favorite poem by Mary Oliver. This poem is what got me started blogging in the first place, and has helped me hit PUBLISH POST every time, even when I know that more editing or rewriting would make it better. It reminds me that I don't need to be perfect and that the world is much larger than me and my fear, anger and doubt. I can just write. If that first post about Ruby is confusing or disorganized or out of context then I'll write others to fill the gaps. I need to just love what I love, and right now I am loving writing.
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.
by Mary Oliver