If ever there was a poem that has been influential in my life, it would be The Journey by Mary Oliver. This is above-all a poem about transformation; about crossing a threshold into a new way of being from which there is no turning back. For the last decade, it has been a guiding presence in my life and representative of my journey back to myself.
I was first introduced to this poem by someone who, though only in my life for a short time, helped me figure out that it was time to let go of playing by the rules and accepting the reality that others had established for me. It was time to look beyond the conditioning from my past and get re-acquainted with my true nature - to start writing my own, authentic story.
In the last couple of years, this poem has taken on an even deeper dimension for me. The pain of loss, grief and despair took me to some dark places and brought me face-to-face with how much I was still taking on the responsibility of trying to "fix things" for others and making them happy. Old habits die hard. I have come to learn and deeply appreciate that I have my own path to navigate and that I need to trust that others can, if they should choose, take charge of their own lives and their own happiness.
The voices from my past still tell me this is "selfish", but the small, still voice of knowing present within me knows better. Now I choose to help others by daring to stand firmly in my truth and living as genuinely as I can. And as Mary Oliver and the author, Roger Housden know, "It is always a wild ride, whoever you are, to be true to what you know in your heart"!
“The greatest gift you can give somebody is your own personal development.
I used to say, 'If you will take care of me, I will take care of you.'
Now I say, 'I will take care of me for you, if you will take care of you for me.”