You Do Not Have to Be Good

This is the first line in a Mary Oliver poem.

This one line is so relieving, freeing, energizing.

When I heard this line read aloud, I almost fell over.

I don't?


Are you sure?

Who says?

I noticed how just this one thought made me feel and act. 

If I don't have to be good, I am going to do it.

I am not going to begrudge myself when I am not good.

I am not going to quit, just because I am not any good at it.

What does it mean for us if we don't have to be good?  We have all been told and conditioned to believe we need to behave like good girls, do good homework, be good at work, be good at relationships, be good citizens. 

So many of us cannot embrace the part of us that isn't good.  The part of us that can't spell or eat -2 to 2 or have grace socially. (or the part that writes a fragment instead of a sentence)  But maybe that's the point.  Maybe the point isn't just to embrace  the part of us that is amazing, but also the part of us that just isn't any good.

I could like, or maybe even love, myself when I am not a good girl?

I don't have to be good?

Thanks for letting me know.

That changes everything.