Driving I-95 S. In a few breaths. In a few steps.

I’m medicated. Two doses of NyQuil overnight, followed by a single dose of DayQuil. Smooth gel tablets roll in my palms. FloatingIs this Nepo’s half-wakeful state? Is this place the other name for Heaven?  

Thursday. 7:30 am. Late jump. Traffic is flowing smoothly.

Head cold, congestion, body aches. Mucus draining in throat. What’s that smell of rot? Breath sweeter than a Honey Badger.

Day 3, no relief on horizon.

I tried to bow out of this speaking engagement earlier, you know, with that excuse of an important client meeting that conflicts on your calendar. Just couldn’t do it.

And to cancel now? At the last minute? Don’t feel well. Have the flu. Sorry. And leave them hanging with an empty 30 minute slot in a full day event planned months earlier.  No, no, no. A burden too heavy to carry.

So, I begged down the engagement and they agreed. I’ll take 30 minutes of Q&A “on any topic.”  [Read more…]

Lightly Child, Lightly

I pause under that summer tree, the one that feels like a friend, as my dog wonders why we’ve stopped. She was trotting in such rhythm. But when this still, I wonder what part of me, way down, remains untouched by dream or memory? What drop of being remains out of reach of the opinions of others? When up close, each thing reveals its shimmer. And it’s the unexpected closeness that holds everything together. The light spreads across my dog’s face, her eyes so devoted to wherever I want to go.

Can I be this devoted to the pull of life?  

Mark Nepo, from “Speechless” in Things That Join the Sea and the Sky: Field Notes on Living


Notes:

  • Photo: Bill Leslie with Groovy Times
  • Prior “Lightly child, lightly” Posts? Connect here.
  • Post Title & Inspiration: Aldous Huxley: “It’s dark because you are trying too hard. Lightly child, lightly. Learn to do everything lightly. Yes, feel lightly even though you’re feeling deeply. Just lightly let things happen and lightly cope with them.”

Progress

We keep turning one thing into another and calling it progress. We keep machining the beauty off of things as they are, creating more and more things to hide in, as if that will let us live longer. We keep burrowing into everything but ourselves: churning trees into lumber, animals into meat, wind into electricity, vegetables into remedies, and silence into noise; turning the earth, continent by continent, into one giant anthill. We keep eating our way through the arms of the Universe, desperate for something large and quiet to hold us.

~ Mark Nepo, “Short Wisdom on a Long Planet” in Things That Join the Sea and the Sky: Field Notes on Living


Photo: monochrome vibe (via to escape from the commonplaces of existence)

It’s been a long day

Everyone wants you to be Atlas,
to shoulder it all. Even the voice in your
head insists you are behind. But I’ve seen
the light in you, the one the gods finger
while we sleep. I’ve seen the blossom open
in your heart, no matter what remains to
be done. There are never enough hours
to satisfy the minions of want. So close
your eyes and lean into the Oneness that
asks nothing of you. When the calls stack,
answer to no one, though you receive them
all. Just open your beautiful hands, born with
nothing in them. You have never been more
complete than in this incomplete moment.

~ Mark Nepo, The Myth of Urgency in The Way Under the Way: The Place of True Meeting


Notes: Quote via mindfulbalance.org. Photo: Laurence Demaison (via see more). Related Posts: It’s been a long day

Monday Morning Wake-Up Call

It isn’t long after we arrive
that everyone starts pointing
and telling us where we need
to be and what we need to do
to get there. There’s no time
to really ask why. Soon, things
happen and we’re thrown off
course and now there’s all this
effort to win their approval. If
lucky, love will distract us more
than suffering. If blessed, we’re
broken of everyone’s plans and
regrets and thrown like a hooded
bird into a sea of light.

If trusting
the fall, we find our wings.

~ Mark Nepo, “Where We Need to Be” in The Way Under the Way: The Place of True Meeting 


Notes: Photo: (via Your Eyes Blaze Out). Poem: Thank you Make Believe Boutique

It’s been a long day

The Chinese poet Po Chü-I (772-846) recounts in a poem how he’d traveled so long on horseback that he’d fallen asleep in the saddle. For a moment, his reins had slackened. It seemed like an instant but he’d gone a hundred lengths while asleep. He’d exhausted himself all day; prodding the horse to push on; to go here, then there. But in his sleep, he loosened his grip, gave up control, and the horse, which seemed to wait for this chance, carried him easily. This is the tension between will and surrender. We push and push; insistent on keeping pace with the urgency of our dream. All for the moment that we exhaust ourselves. And letting go the reins, the horse of spirit quickens its pace and carries us on.

~ Mark Nepo, Will and Surrender (Huffpost, Nov 6, 2017)


Notes:

Flying over I-40 W. With Orange Sticks and Ashes.

6:15 a.m. But for two rows of ambient lights lining the aisle, the cabin is dark and quiet.

A few minutes earlier, the flight attendant completes her routine: “You are seated in the emergency-exit row of this aircraft. Are you ready, willing and able to open the exit hatch if needed?” It’s the right of passage for extra legroom. 11 of us mumble “yes.”

She’s Asian. Japanese, actually. I see two of her colleagues down the aisle, Japanese too.  Kermit the frog on Sesame Street: Today, I’m going to tell you about the word ‘Same.’ 3 flight attendants. All female. All Asian. All Japanese. All ~ 5’5″. Blue skirts. Dark navy pumps. Silver wings on lapel. Hair down, long, dark. Red lipstick applied just so, no coloring outside the lines. Robert Palmer’s hits come flashing in Simply Irresistible and Addicted to Love. Ladies, cloned, playing guitars, dancing.

You can’t sleep, you can’t eat
There’s no doubt, you’re in deep
Your throat is tight, you can’t breathe

I dip my hand in my pocket to check my boarding pass. Dallas. Yes. Tokyo. No.

I steal a glance at my seat mate. There’s a soft cover book on his lap:  “Thy Kingdom Come: Tracing God’s Kingdom Program” by J. Dwight Pentecost. He’s attentive. She walks through the FAA regulatory requirements…”Life vests are located beneath, or between your seats. Remove the vest from the pouch by pulling on the tab. Place the vest over your head, and fasten the straps to the front of the vest. Adjust the straps loosely around your waist. As you leave the aircraft, inflate the vest by pulling down on the red tabs, or manually inflate by blowing into the tubes on either side…”

His finger runs down the multi-fold laminated instructional card on emergency evacuations, his lips twitching as he follows along. No, no, not twitching, He’s Praying. JesusHe closes his eyes, both hands grip the arm rests.

[Read more…]

Unglove Yourself. Can you feel this?

Anne Bancroft at a school for the deaf and blind in Spring Valley, NY, preparing for her role in The Miracle Worker photographed by Nina Leen (1959)


Notes:

  • Photo Source: Annebancrofts
  • Post Title Inspired by: It’s like wearing gloves every time we touch something, and then, forgetting we chose to put them on, we complain that nothing feels quite real. Our challenge each day is not to get dressed to face the world but to unglove ourselves so that the doorknob feels cold and the car handle feels wet and the kiss goodbye feels like the lips of another being, soft and unrepeatable. ― Mark Nepo, The Book of Awakening: Having the Life You Want by Being Present to the Life You Have

Take the gloves off

touch, hands,love,feel

We waste so much energy trying to cover up who we are when beneath every attitude is the want to be loved, and beneath every anger is a wound to be healed and beneath every sadness is the fear that there will not be enough time.

When we hesitate in being direct, we unknowingly slip something on, some added layer of protection that keeps us from feeling the world, and often that thin covering is the beginning of a loneliness which, if not put down, diminishes our chances of joy.

It’s like wearing gloves every time we touch something, and then, forgetting we chose to put them on, we complain that nothing feels quite real. Our challenge each day is not to get dressed to face the world but to unglove ourselves so that the doorknob feels cold and the car handle feels wet and the kiss goodbye feels like the lips of another being, soft and unrepeatable.

― Mark Nepo, The Book of Awakening

 


Sources: Photo: Inside Silence by Laura Makabresku. Quote: Waves of Beauty

Such raw being aches

feel-live-peace-art-woman

So often we run from feeling and yet it is only through feeling that we can know the depth of life. Only through feeling can we hold the smallest shell or bone and feel the tug of the Universe. Such raw being aches, for, as the Buddhists say, the bareness of being here is so full. I wake with this rawness and watching you sleep, I’m stopped before I start. Before I dress, I lose why I’m going anywhere. Yet wherever the day takes me- pausing to hold the groceries with the old man who packs them or seeing the neighbor’s child at the kitchen table doing homework as I walk our dog or pulling over to watch the small horse breathe his cloud over the fence- everywhere this bareness illumines. With no way to that bareness but through feeling and the listening that feeling opens. Some say I get lost in this feeling, this listening. But only if I think I know where I’m going, only if I think I know what I’m listening for. Through this bareness of being, we refresh our openness and enliven our innate connection to the one living sense. Through our unblocked, sincere response to life, we can tune our inner person with the great mysteries.

~ Mark Nepo


Credits: Thank you Make Believe Boutique, my daily inspiration, for the poem. Visual Art by Karolina Szymkiewicz via ufukorado.

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