• Atlanta Northcutt

Opinions: Be Wild Enough to Be Free

By: Atlanta Northcutt -- Reporter for the Southern Standard


As I sat outside Thursday morning to write in my journal and take in the sunrise peaking above the cliffs filled with foliage, I viewed the many geese roaming along the riverside, moving through the variety of green hues from the blades of grass blowing back and forth by a gentle breeze.


I watched the geese meandering along the bank, filling themselves with the delicate white flowers blooming amongst the lush green landscape and bathing themselves in the cool water.


I smiled at the small goslings, who could only be recognized by their little tufts of fuzz shuffling through the grass. These babies who hadn’t yet gained their adult feathers followed faithfully behind their mothers and fathers with sincere trust, epitomizing the idea of innocence before being forced to experience the emotion of fear.


I couldn’t help but think of one of my favorite poems by Mary Oliver entitled “Wild Geese,” making me wonder if we, as adults, were the same as the frightened, mistrusting and anxious adult geese in this world, as we suffer with such a vast amount of confusion, violence, self-doubt, fear and inner turmoil of if you’re worthy of recognition in this world, and if you’re deserving of happiness and contentment in life, or is it just about survival.


We believe animals are lesser than humans, and although that may be true in many ways, these creatures are privileged to have a less complex mindset than we do. One which we often use to beat, break and blame ourselves for each mistake we’ve ever made and carry it on our shoulders until the bones in our back eventual give way.


We don’t express these emotions in order to seem brave and strong, but then we bury the negativity, sadness and fear of failure as deep as possible until our spirits begin to break. We subconsciously begin to plea to be accepted and seen as societally normal and valuable in any way we can.


A few of my favorite line from Oliver’s “Wild Geese” are:

“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.”


You don’t have to bleed yourself dry and bear a cross for the rest of your life due to previous faults. We’ve all experienced pain and heartache for one reason or another. This doesn’t make us tainted or lesser than. It makes us human. It’s OK to forgive ourselves.


“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.”


We can be free like we were as children, when we were our true selves, just like the goslings. We can understand one another regardless of our differences and create peace within ourselves and others. We’re all a family, and we can find comfort in knowing we are never alone.


"Wild Geese" by Mary Oliver

"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."



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