I quoted the first line of Mary Oliver’s poem, Wild Geese, in our staff meeting last week. “You do not have to be good.” I no longer remember the specific context, but I remember the feeling of the moment. We were talking about creativity and space to be, to learn, to unfold, to evolve. We were talking about our programs, about kids and music, about not being perfect, but of stepping all the way in to learn, participate and express.
This is one of my favorite poems and after the meeting I looked it up. I looked up pictures of wild geese too. They might look rather chaotic to the casual observer when they are taking off, before they are in that “V” formation. Once they are in that formation, their structure is dynamic and changing. They rotate leadership – flying at the front is the most exhausting – so their shifting positions assist the whole group. The geese fly and are aided by the updraft of the goose in front of them. They share the work and move forward together.
And core to SFYSA’s mission is the last line of Mary Oliver’s poem:
Whoever you are, no matter how
the world offers itself to your
calls to you like the wild geese,
harsh and exciting –
over and over announcing your
in the family of things.
We strive to make sure every student, every child interested in music, whether it be jazz, mariachi or orchestra, can find his, her or their place “in the family of things.”