“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.” – Mary Oliver, Wild Geese
You do not have to be good.
I don’t know how many times I have held that line – written by the wondrous Mary Oliver – in my heart.
I’ve started or ended retreats with it. I have whispered it to myself as a mantra during periods of self flagellation. I have whispered it to the breeze, to the wind, and to storms. In the past few months and weeks, it has become a constant companion; a touch stone to remind me of who I really am.
You do not have to be good.
For lack of a better word, the past 15 months have been amazing. I quit my job and we bought tickets. We’ve shed or stored almost everything we own, we’ve moved countries, moved house three times, learned to deal with all kinds of creatures, and very recently bought a piece of land in the jungle.
But you know, as I sit here in the jungle looking out over the Pacific Ocean, I can tell you that the myth of all of the things you’ll do when you magically have more time is complete and utter bullshit.
No matter how much you shed, you always pack yourself. Always.
I have been been so hard on myself since I got here, thinking about all of the ways I am still not good enough.
Good. I just noticed that it’s a four letter word.
“You do not have to be good. You do not have to walk on your knees For a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.”
Repenting. Yep, I am totally good at that one. 41 years of trying to be good and feeling guilty when I’m not. I’m exhausted.
So I am taking a radical step and not trying to be good in 2016. I’m not choosing any positive, healthy, self-help theme or resolutions. Not. One.
One thing I know for sure is that I firmly believe in magic and in my connection every single moment to the divine (whether I am good or not). The times I have tried to be good, things have turned out okay. The times I have actively played with the magic and honoured who I was? Magic happened. Together we have accomplished more that I could ever have dreamed up on my own. I don’t want more good. I want more amazing.
So my theme for 2016 is going to be Cahoots.
It’s Cahoots because I am moving on through Ms. Oliver’s poem: “You only have to let the soft animal of your body love what it loves.”
I’m choosing Cahoots because it feels just a little bit badly behaved. I’m choosing Cahoots because I’m inviting God, the angels, guides, the howler monkeys, the universe and anyone who would like to to play with me. I’m choosing Cahoots because my glorious friend said it sounded like shenanigans.
Cahoots is curiosity and wonder and what if and dirty paws and sunburned noses and ripe papaya and delicious trickster energy. Cahoots liberates me from the shackles of trying to be good, because Cahoots invites in play and the fun and collaboration with delightful souls.
All of the self help books I’ve read said you have to feel good. They don’t say you have to be good. Cahoots is my theme because it makes me feel good.
Cahoots, my friends, is the magic I believe in.