We often forget that inspiration — along with its cousins, elevation and awe, — are positive emotions that make us feel more content, joyful and satisfied with our lives. One way to bring more of these positive emotions into our lives is to memorize a part of a poem that inspires us.
This is one of my favorite Mary Oliver poems:
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.
The lines I say to myself for inspiration are, “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.”
Take Action: Use the Internet to find a poem you remember loving. Print it out, highlight your favorite lines, and commit them to memory.
Join the discussion: What is your favorite line from a poem? Inspire others by commenting below.