Mark Nepo's Blog

January 5, 2016

Sounds True recently published a new, expanded edition of Inside the Miracle: Enduring Suffering, Approaching Wholeness, which gathers twenty-eight years of my writing and teaching about suffering, healing, and wholeness, including thirty-nine new poems and prose pieces not yet published. One of the great transforming passages in my life was having cancer in my mid-thirties. This experience unraveled the way I see the world and made me a student of all spiritual paths. With a steadfast belief in our aliveness, I hope what’s in this book will help you meet the transformation that waits in however you’re being forged. The following piece is an excerpt from the book.


 


The Decision for Therapy


 


As we gamble on the future,


let’s stay clear: this moment


with all its presence is intact.


It is not up for grabs.


 


This moment for which I’ve


lived all others, for which


I’ve withstood the breakage


of all I know repeatedly,


this moment is germ-free


and not on trial.


 


You are welcome here


by permission only


and the alarm you cast


like a blind fisherman


will only snag my want


for tomorrow, only hook


what I do not have.


 


I know you mean to help


and I cannot deny


you are a bridge


I have to cross.


 


But where I live


cannot be staged


or stained or seen


as gross evidence.


 


Where I live


is impervious


to histology.


 


It is the one site


in the city that


will not burn.


 


And if you guide me


to tomorrow, I’ll


show you, as you


shake your head,


how I still glow


in this unbreachable


clearing I carry within


like a sun or rising star


protected by its rays.


 


A Question to Walk With: Tell the story of a moment of certainty you experienced in the middle of a difficult time.

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Published on January 05, 2016 11:30 • 33 views

December 28, 2015

Read these weekly reflections on The Huffington Post and VividLife.


Last month, Sounds True published a new, expanded edition of Inside the Miracle: Enduring Suffering, Approaching Wholeness, which gathers twenty-eight years of my writing and teaching about suffering, healing, and wholeness, including thirty-nine new poems and prose pieces not yet published. One of the great transforming passages in my life was having cancer in my mid-thirties. This experience unraveled the way I see the world and made me a student of all spiritual paths. With a steadfast belief in our aliveness, I hope what’s in this book will help you meet the transformation that waits in however you’re being forged. The following piece is an excerpt from the book.


 


FINDING A WAY OUT


When a dolphin leaps, something

in me comes out in the open. When

the truth in you breaks surface, some-

thing in me looks for a way out. When

I glimpse the vastness from a height, I

want to return to all I was born with.

It’s true, breaking surface and glimps-

ing the vastness live in each of us. And

tripping through the days, we mirror

each other’s sleeping angel. So when

moved way inside, open your heart

the way you would a bag of fire.

The world is a spark between

birth and death.


A Question to Walk With: In conversation with a friend or loved one, describe a time when the truth broke surface in you or around you.  What have you done with this truth?

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Published on December 28, 2015 09:31 • 11 views

December 21, 2015

Read these weekly reflections on The Huffington Post and VividLife.


Last month, Sounds True published a new, expanded edition of Inside the Miracle: Enduring Suffering, Approaching Wholeness, which gathers twenty-eight years of my writing and teaching about suffering, healing, and wholeness, including thirty-nine new poems and prose pieces not yet published. One of the great transforming passages in my life was having cancer in my mid-thirties. This experience unraveled the way I see the world and made me a student of all spiritual paths. With a steadfast belief in our aliveness, I hope what’s in this book will help you meet the transformation that waits in however you’re being forged. The following piece is an excerpt from the book.


 


LIVING WITH THE WOUND


There is a need to be specific

if we are to survive,

which requires being honest,

the way seeing requires

the eyes to stay open.


It means I can tell you

when you hurt me

and still count on your love.


It means being honest

with myself, knowing

the ugly things are not

always someone else’s.


I’ve been thinking how

practical people cut the cord

to those who’ve broken hope,

the way breeders shoot horses

with broken legs, as if

there’s nothing to be done.


Now I know they do this

for themselves, not wanting

to care for a horse that cannot run,

not wanting to sit with a friend

who can’t find tomorrow, not wanting

to be saddled with anything

that will slow them down.


I used to think it bad timing.

When I was up, you were down.

When you were ready,

I was scared. But since

we’ve never given up on each other,

it’s clear that drinking wonder

when we’re sad is how we shed

the things we love about pain.


I have a right to joy

even when lonely,

even when in pain,

and you never need

to cover your wounds

when entering my house.


If your voice breaks, I’ll be a cup.

If your heart sweats, I’ll be a pillow

on which you’ll chance to dream

that weeping is singing

through an instrument

that’s hard to reach,

though it lands us like lightning

in the grasp of each other

where giving is a mirror

of all we cannot teach.


A Question to Walk With: Describe a wound you’re living with and how that’s affecting your understanding of life.

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Published on December 21, 2015 10:56 • 11 views

December 15, 2015

Read these weekly reflections on The Huffington Post and VividLife.


Last month, Sounds True published a new, expanded edition of Inside the Miracle: Enduring Suffering, Approaching Wholeness, which gathers twenty-eight years of my writing and teaching about suffering, healing, and wholeness, including thirty-nine new poems and prose pieces not yet published. One of the great transforming passages in my life was having cancer in my mid-thirties. This experience unraveled the way I see the world and made me a student of all spiritual paths. With a steadfast belief in our aliveness, I hope what’s in this book will help you meet the transformation that waits in however you’re being forged. The following piece is an excerpt from the book.


 


LOVE YOUR WINDOW


No matter how small or old. Keep it

clean so you can see what comes your way.

When the lost bird flies into it looking for

its mate, keep the feather stuck to the glass.

Take it with you and dream of finding what

completes you. At the edge of winter, open

the window of your heart and see your

breath, how what you bring up becomes

the air. When you’re ready or pushed,

close your eyes and the other window

will appear, the one that faces all of

time. What flies there never lands, but

hovers, dropping seeds of infinity in the

breaks we can’t heal. So open the window

of your pain, though the whisperers tell you

to nail it shut, and let in everything that’s

ever lived. What flies and never lands has

been waiting. Be brave. Don’t run. Let the

fire around your window burn until you

become the opening.


A Question to Walk With: Describe your favorite window and why it has meaning for you. Then describe your inner window and what it lets you see.

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Published on December 15, 2015 23:11 • 16 views

December 7, 2015

Read these weekly reflections on The Huffington Post and VividLife.


Last month, Sounds True published a new, expanded edition of Inside the Miracle: Enduring Suffering, Approaching Wholeness, which gathers twenty-eight years of my writing and teaching about suffering, healing, and wholeness, including thirty-nine new poems and prose pieces not yet published. One of the great transforming passages in my life was having cancer in my mid-thirties. This experience unraveled the way I see the world and made me a student of all spiritual paths. With a steadfast belief in our aliveness, I hope what’s in this book will help you meet the transformation that waits in however you’re being forged. The following piece is an excerpt from the book.


SETTING FIRES IN THE RAIN

You see. It was time. The tube had to come out. It had drained my lung of blood for days, through a slit in my side. The doctor was waiting and I looked to Paul at the foot of my bed. Without a word, he knew. All the talk of life was now in the steps between us. He made his way past the curtain. Our arms locked and he crossed over, no longer watching. He was part of the trauma and everything—the bedrail, the tube, my face, his face, the curve of blanket rubbing the tube, the doctor pulling the tube’s length as I held onto Paul—everything pulsed. And since, I’ve learned, if you want to create anything—peace of mind, a child, a painting of running water, a simple tier of lilies—you must crossover and hold. You must sweep past the curtain, no matter how clear. You must drop all reservations like magazines in waiting rooms. You must swallow your heart, leap across and join.


A Question to Walk With: In conversation with a friend or loved one, tell the story of someone who bravely showed up for you and how that affected your relationship.

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Published on December 07, 2015 15:58 • 6 views

November 30, 2015

This month, Sounds True published a new, expanded edition of Inside the Miracle: Enduring Suffering, Approaching Wholeness, which gathers twenty-eight years of my writing and teaching about suffering, healing, and wholeness, including thirty-nine new poems and prose pieces not yet published. One of the great transforming passages in my life was having cancer in my mid-thirties. This experience unraveled the way I see the world and made me a student of all spiritual paths. With a steadfast belief in our aliveness, I hope what’s in this book will help you meet the transformation that waits in however you’re being forged. The following piece is an excerpt from the book.


ANOTHER CHANCE


It’s harder to hold onto things.

I’ve broken several bowls while

drying them, including the one of

a kind Nick gave my wife Susan.

Another chance to practice frailty.

I need to take more care in how I

lift, to let things settle in my palm

where I can feel them more than

carry them. And lately when our

dog eats too fast, she gets sick. So

now we squat beside her and make

her wait. She stops and chews and

we look at each other. These tender

moments opened by limits make

me stop in the market, watching

everyone handle fruit. I aspire

to stay tender. The softness of

light is everywhere.


A Question to Walk With: In conversation with a friend or loved one, describe a limitation you are experiencing. How are you making peace with this?

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Published on November 30, 2015 07:08 • 9 views

November 16, 2015

This month, Sounds True published a new, expanded edition of Inside the Miracle: Enduring Suffering, Approaching Wholeness, which gathers twenty-eight years of my writing and teaching about suffering, healing, and wholeness, including thirty-nine new poems and prose pieces not yet published. One of the great transforming passages in my life was having cancer in my mid-thirties. This experience unraveled the way I see the world and made me a student of all spiritual paths. With a steadfast belief in our aliveness, I hope what’s in this book will help you meet the transformation that waits in however you’re being forged. The following piece is an excerpt from the book.


 


POST-OP


I could see it in your eye

when you thought I was dozing.

You thought you might lose me

and you started to remove yourself

as we do when pets are about to die

or old friends have decided to move.


But we are living with this,

not dying from it, and I

am not going, not until

the red bird flies

into the sun.


And you must not

corrupt the time we have

by double-living

what we will not.


So come on back.

Tell me your pain.

Utter your fear.

I feel it anyway.


This I’ve learned, the pain

makes the secrets known.


And so I saw you

sinking at the foot of my bed

watching the tubes run in

and out, saw you start

to fix the scene in your

future as a sad memory

of when I went away.


Come back to me. Now.

There are many futures

and each depends on us

today.


This is not about dying.

I have agreed to suffer

and therefore will live

like a gypsy exhausted

from his dance.


And you have chosen to love me.

So you will play my tambourine.

You will coax me to try

and urge me to stop.


And you will not have me

cleanly: in your life or not.


No. You will suffer too,

as I flare and fade

a hundred times,

while you marvel

at the secrets

I cough up from

the other side.


A Question to Walk With: In conversation with a loved one or friend, describe a time when you felt a friend or family member was giving up on you too soon.

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Published on November 16, 2015 09:07 • 6 views

November 2, 2015

Read these weekly reflections on The Huffington Post and VividLife.


Yesterday, Sounds True published a new, expanded edition of Inside the Miracle: Enduring Suffering, Approaching Wholeness, which gathers twenty-eight years of my writing and teaching about suffering, healing, and wholeness, including thirty-nine new poems and prose pieces not yet published. One of the great transforming passages in my life was having cancer in my mid-thirties. This experience unraveled the way I see the world and made me a student of all spiritual paths. With a steadfast belief in our aliveness, I hope what’s in this book will help you meet the transformation that waits in however you’re being forged. The following piece is an excerpt from the book.


 


TU FU’S REAPPEARANCE


The great Chinese poet Tu Fu (712-770)

has appeared to me in dreams

as a guide.


Out of the yellow mist

he came again, his Asian beard

in tow. We were on a healthy shore

and he sat cross-legged in the sand,

scratching delicately with a branch,

his slender head down. I crouched

and put it to him, “How do I block

the fear?” He kept scratching the sand

as if he hadn’t heard. I grew angry,

“How do I block the fear?!” He lifted

his head and shrugged,

branch waving above him,

“How does a tree

block the wind?”

With that, he

disappeared.


A Question to Walk With: Tell the story of a time when fear got the better of you.

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Published on November 02, 2015 09:03 • 16 views

October 26, 2015

Read these weekly reflections on The Huffington Post and VividLife.


Next week, Sounds True will publish a new, expanded edition of Inside the Miracle: Enduring Suffering, Approaching Wholeness, which gathers twenty-eight years of my writing and teaching about suffering, healing, and wholeness, including thirty-nine new poems and prose pieces not yet published. One of the great transforming passages in my life was having cancer in my mid-thirties. This experience unraveled the way I see the world and made me a student of all spiritual paths. With a steadfast belief in our aliveness, I hope what’s in this book will help you meet the transformation that waits in however you’re being forged. The following piece is an excerpt from the book.


IN THE SKY OF HEART


It’s late in the afternoon and I’m

backed up in traffic, aching for my

father and our dog, both gone, when

the sun comes through, and there, above

us, a shelf of clouds shaped like an island

edged by a waterfall. So real, I can al-

most hear the rush of water falling

into eternity. This mythic island in

the sky stands by itself, beckoning.

And I understand why early people

overwhelmed with survival might

look up and believe that gods live

in the sky. I am no different, as I

outwait the clouds of our trouble.

Someone is honking. But something

stirs within and I want to put the car

in park and walk into the sky, to sit

by the waterfall of time falling into

everything. I think it’s where we all

go when the light turns green and

the tires turn to wings and the steer-

ing wheels open into flowers. I think

I hear my father throwing sticks to

our dog at the bottom of the water-

fall. Someone else is honking.

It’s hard to go anywhere.


A Question to Walk With: In conversation with a friend or loved one, describe the impact and presence of someone you have lost.

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Published on October 26, 2015 11:53 • 20 views

October 20, 2015

Read these weekly reflections on The Huffington Post and VividLife.


In November, Sounds True will publish a new, expanded edition of Inside the Miracle: Enduring Suffering, Approaching Wholeness, which gathers twenty-eight years of my writing and teaching about suffering, healing, and wholeness, including thirty-nine new poems and prose pieces not yet published.


One of the great transforming passages in my life was having cancer in my mid-thirties. This experience unraveled the way I see the world and made me a student of all spiritual paths. With a steadfast belief in our aliveness, I hope what’s in this book will help you meet the transformation that waits in however you’re being forged.


The following piece is an excerpt from the book.


 


BEING HUMAN


We’re born with an aftertaste of Oneness

and a thirst for weeds and earth, as the angel

deep within us needs our hands, to make a

dance of all this hurt. It has us reach beyond

our limits, till we love like a planet though

we’re constantly confused. We carry lightning

in a thimble of skin and bones and dreams.

We carry everything that matters in a plan

that doesn’t last, while the stars pulse

to fill us, the way a candle fills a room.


 


A Question to Walk With: Describe a time when you experienced the light of a person filling an entire room.

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Published on October 20, 2015 05:41 • 10 views

Mark Nepo's Blog

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