Mark Nepo's Weekly Reflection: The Work of Care

I’m not sure I can help
but my heart wants to try.

Oh, I can shop for you or
bring you dinner.

I can even help you up
should you fall.

But when the hunger is
inside, when the break is
where no one can see,

then all we can do is be
a greenhouse for each other.


---

A Question to Walk With: How do you help someone you love when where they are hurting is invisible?

This excerpt is from my book of poems, The Gods Visit.

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You are a Difference Maker: The World Needs You

You are a Difference Maker. You dare. You dream. You DO. You are unique in a world where people too often stop at dreaming or never dare to dream at all.

Difference Makers are alive with passion. We see dreams as visions — a sacred spiral, a chrysalis, a circular path to growing. It’s the metamorphosis of soul, an evolutionary process in the cycle of becoming who we are meant to be. The more our dreams align with nature and the natural flow of life, the more authentic we become. It’s how we transform ourselves and discover our true purpose.

This is the butterfly effect. Something as small as the flutter of one butterfly’s wing can ultimately cause a tsunami of good around the world.
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Mark Nepo's Weekly Reflection: The Craft of Perception

The aim of art is not to represent the outward appearance of things, but their inward significance.

Aristotle


Jennifer Blessing, a curator at the Guggenheim Museum in New York City, has said that “artists pursue various methods of liberating the mind in order to access the marvelous.” We are all looking for ways to widen our lens of perception so that we can be more alive. The Black Mountain poet Robert Creeley declared in the 1950s that form follows content. And so we keep searching for forms of expression that will open and liberate the confines of our mind, so we can access and inhabit the marvelous. What we do to find the form that keeps us close to life constitutes the craft of perception.

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Mark Nepo's Weekly Reflection: Inside Why

Violins are falling

from the sky. As they

tumble, the wind releases

deep music. This is how

love sounds to itself. This

is what it’s like to love

you. It’s a music that

can’t always be heard.

It makes me pour you

tea.
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Mark Nepo's Weekly Reflection: The Great Waters

In the beginning, I thought I was

going somewhere. I thought we all

were. But falling in while trying to cross,

I finally understood, the journey is to follow

the river. All the rivers, especially the ones

no one can see. The soul is a fish whose

home is in those rivers. So I can take you

across, if you want. But the secret is to go

everywhere by going nowhere. And I will

be here when you fall in. Which is not

a failure but an awakening.



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KAHLIL GIBRAN: Good And Evil

Of the good in you I can speak, but not of the evil. For what is evil but good tortured by its own hunger and thirst? Verily when good is hungry it seeks food even in dark caves, and when it thirsts it drinks even of dead waters. You are good when you are one with yourself. Yet when you are not one with yourself you are not evil. For a divided house is not a den of thieves; it is only a divided house.

And a ship without rudder may wander aimlessly among perilous isles yet sink not to the bottom. You are good when you strive to give of yourself. Yet you are not evil when you seek gain for yourself. For when you strive for gain you are but a root that clings to the earth and sucks at her breast. Surely the fruit cannot say to the root, “Be like me, ripe and full and ever giving of your abundance.” For to the fruit giving is a need, as receiving is a need to the root. You are good when you are fully awake in your speech, Yet you are not evil when you sleep while your tongue staggers without purpose. And even stumbling speech may strengthen a weak tongue. You are good when you walk to your goal firmly and with bold steps. Yet you are not evil when you go thither limping. Even those who limp go not backward.
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Mark Nepo's Weekly Reflection: Care Unto Care

In 1689 in Japan, a kind farmer gave the lost poet Basho a horse that knew the way. And in 1910 when Ted Shawn was paralyzed, before he knew he was a dancer, a dear friend left crutches just out of reach and breakfast on the table. And in 1938 in Paris, Django Reinhardt’s brother left a guitar at the foot of his hospital bed because he knew the badly burned genius would no longer be able to play the banjo. And when Claude Monet at 82 was suffering from double cataracts, he somehow knew to keep painting what he saw, which led him to retrieve his masterful “Waterlilies.” Even leafcutter ants in Costa Rica will carry another ant for miles.

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Mark Nepo's Weekly Reflection: View at Seventy

I’m standing on a bridge

near the top of a mountain,

looking back at the winding

path that took years to climb.

And there, below, the chasm

I thought I’d never cross, so

much more beautiful on this

side of the rise. And in the

vastness that seemed like

heaven on the way up, all

those I’ve loved and lost.

And in that pocket of fog

that seemed like hell when

I was in it, the truth in all

things I sighted on the way

that kept me going. I could

lean on this bridge forever

but for the view the next

step will bring.

A Question to Walk With:  Describe a passage in your life and how it looked before you experienced it and how it looks to you now on the other side. 

This excerpt is from my book of poems, The Tone in the Center of the Bell.


Let the Light of Awareness Transform You

There are parts of our psychic system that reject the shocks -- the lessons needed for our evolution because they imagine they’re already flying above the world of troubles. It is this mistaken sense of self that stands between us and true self-transformation.

Nothing that resists life can hope to learn from it.

Until we can embrace the lessons that ride into our lives on the back of events, we walk through an isolated world of our own making. Confined and defined by the content of our own thoughts, we are cut off from reality. And, as long as we remain so, there is no hope of realizing our relationship with that limitless Light from out of whose life pours the lessons intended for our transformation.

So, this much is clear: something within us is acting against our best interests. But what would do this, and why? The following insight helps us to see why our lower consciousness —our false self—resists the lessons we need in order to be born anew:

Real learning requires surrender.

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BEE Yourself!

Remember in the movie Aladdin when Genie told him to “Bee Yourself”? Genie was really the Universe telling him to show up in his own truth!

BEE is a joyful reminder of the SWEETNESS of life. That no matter what happens, there is always something to delight in. The bee is also INDUSTRIOUS, a hard worker whose efforts pay off in the beauty of flowers blooming and the deliciousness of honey. She reminds us that we too can create beautiful flowers in our own gardens by being present in our daily lives and giving back to the world in a way that supports the highest good of all. A sense of BELONGING is also offered as a reminder of being a productive and dedicated member of our own hives, our communities that we live and work in.

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The Moment Is Now

“Live your life while you have it. Life is a splendid gift. There is nothing small in it.”
 —Florence Nightingale

 

I've Been Thinking...

I Don't Want to Live a Small Life
by Mary Oliver
 
I don’t want to live a small life. Open your eyes,
open your hands. I have just come
from the berry fields, the sun
 
kissing me with its golden mouth all the way
(open your hands) and the wind-winged clouds
following along thinking perhaps I might
 
feed them, but no I carry these heart-shapes
only to you. Look how many small
but so sweet and maybe the last gift
 
I will bring to anyone in this
world of hope and risk, so do
 
Look at me. Open your life, open your hands.

 

The other day, I came across the above poem from my great friend and mentor, the late Mary Oliver. Its opening lines made me stop and think.

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How A Little Decision To Face A Fear Changed My Life Forever

It‘s really funny how our lives can be changed dramatically with a so-called insignificant event. My life changed completely from a decision to go snow skiing.

No, I didn’t have an accident or a near death experience. I just learned how to snow ski at age 43. Now, I know that does not sound very exciting or like a life changing experience, but it was. That one so-called little decision changed me emotionally, psychologically, mentally and spiritually. That one little decision although not an easy one for me to make, set off a chain of events that has led me here with you today, writing this article.

When I was a freshman in college my girlfriend and some of our friends took me on a snow skiing trip to Tahoe California. They set out intending to teach me how to ski. I had never been skiing before. I was a competitive gymnast and my gymnastics coaches forbid me to do any extracurricular activities that could put my competitions at risk.

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Mark Nepo's Weekly Reflection: The Path of Lasting Friendship

The deep irony of my life as a teacher is that I travel all over to affirm that there’s nowhere to go but here. And I’m happy to do it. For every place we arrive at unravels to the same timeless moment in which we are each other. This is the path of lasting friendship: trying to go somewhere, only to land in each other’s arms. The harder we try to run from ourselves, the more certain it is that we will boomerang into the heart of our unanswered question. There, we will find each other.

If, upon such meeting, we accept the truth of our journey and the ways that we have run from life, then we will form an unbreakable bond. If we deny our attempts to escape what is ours to face, then we will push each other away.

I have done both, but I am here to affirm that there’s nowhere to go but here. There is only one, timeless place of truth under every there. The way the same nectar waits in the center of every flower, no matter how it opens. All the friends I’ve been blessed to have know the taste of this nectar. It’s how the spirit of friendship keeps us alive.

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Give Purple Peace a Chance!

When we think of the symbol of PEACE, many of us are transported back to the 60-70’s, the era of hippies, flower power, and free love. We feel a sense of freedom, fun, and unlimited possibilities.

Peace is a gentle reminder of the TRANQUILITY that we can slip into any time we need to refresh and renew. It reminds us of the importance of SILENCE and going within to connect with our higher self. It reminds us that TRUCE is always possible when we see experiences from all perspectives. By tuning into peace daily, we discover that GOODWILL is always an option to share at any time, in any experience.

So, get your bell-bottoms on, adorn your hair in flowers, listen to John Lennon, and let’s “Give Peace a Chance!”

Check out The Multi-Dimensional Oracle Card Deck too!

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Mark Nepo's Weekly Reflection: Foundational Moments

When not doing well, when full of doubt or pain or worry, when unable to find your way, try, very slowly, to return to moments that feel foundational. By foundational, I mean moments that are solid, however briefly, in which you feel directly connected to life, in which you feel safe and thorough, in which you feel at peace, even if for a few seconds.

You don’t have to name these foundational moments, or explain them, or fit them into some theological box. You simply have to experience them and locate them, so you have a chance to return to them or to moments like them, when you need to.

In time, you will chart a constellation of foundational moments that can hold you up when you fall down. And mysteriously, when identified and honored, these moments of peace and clearness start to join each other. So, in time, our foundational field enlarges when we have the courage to find what will hold us up.

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Mark Nepo's Weekly Reflection: Drinking There

No matter how many conversations I

start, they all end with me kneeling at

the same deep well. And drinking there,

I remember who I am. I rise from that

drinking able to see, again, that we are

at heart the same. And the secret wound

you show me there is my wound which I

have hidden for so long. And the secret

joy you bring into the open is my joy

which I thought I had lost. Experience

has us meet in the most unexpected ways.

Until we’re forced to show the soft center

that never dies. Until our soul appears in

the world like a pearl before it hardens.

Until the gift of life stirs in our hand

like a tuft of feathers that needs to

be loved into a wing.
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Poetry For Our Conscious Journey

It’s National Poetry Month here in the U.S. and I’ve been rereading some of my favorites and thinking about how poetry is the perfect vehicle for communicating both the individual and universal at once... 

It gives shape to the human experience, and can be a place for profound connection as well as a lens into other ways of seeing and being in the world.  

The poet Jane Hirshfield goes as far as saying, “Poetry itself is an instrument of resilience,” and I think we could all use a little resilience these days...

So today, I’d like to share a few lines of poetry with you that speak to the conscious journey we are on together in hopes that they will provide you that sense of connection with others that many of us are sorely missing these days, as well as fuel to cultivate resilience during challenging times: 

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Mark Nepo's Weekly Reflection: It Only Gets More Real

In the way that erosion makes every face in nature more elemental, everything we go through only makes us more real. Once we give up our masks and excuses, we are humbled to accept the tenderness of having nothing between us and this thing we call life. It is this fragile, resilient state that lets us breathe more deeply, that lets us hear what love has to say, that lets us experience Oneness over the idea of Oneness. The more real we become, the more we experience love over the dream of love. Until Love and Oneness emanate in the coffee steaming as I wait for my wife to come out of the shower while our dog is belly up, her tail wagging at the supreme joy of absolutely nothing. It is then that I admit that I am hopelessly simple, gratefully simple, eager for the moment at hand to stay unadorned and free of veils. There is no five-year plan or bucket list or dream of living in another country. There is only breathing in the country of this moment where everything touches everything else. And though tomorrow, I will drift or fall away from this bareness of being, I remain devoted to all the things, pleasant and harsh, that help me return.

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Mark Nepo's Weekly Reflection: Inside the Pandemic

Now that we can’t touch, I am awash

with all the ways that touch sustains us:

like an electricity from one heart to another

or the ancient rush of water down a falls into

the basin of a village. I’m thinking of how you

wiped my brow in the hospital and the time

you stroked a fallen bird, its beak aquiver,

and the time your mother held your face,

saying, “I saw how loving you are the day

you were born.” Or the moment I caught

a stranger in the parking lot as her groceries

splattered, her cart wobbling away. Earlier,

it was Grandma hoisting me to my feet in

her Brooklyn alley and the hands of my

father guiding mine as he taught me to

use a chisel. Now I’m seeing Whitman

as a medic in the Civil War wrapping a

bandage around a corporal’s chest. And

now I close my eyes to send my touch

like a Shaman across the dreamscape,

hoping it will reach you.

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The Incredible Power Of A Decision: The Devastating News

After four weeks of lying flat on my back in traction with a broken neck, no mobility or feeling in both my arms and one of my legs, I got a visit from the ‘expert doctors’.

At 20 years old I was told that I wasn’t responding to any of the treatments and I was going to be paralyzed for the rest of my life.

The rest of my life!” rang in my head over and over and over. With a tsunami twirling in my stomach, my heart pounding out of my chest I immediately blurted out; “I don’t think so doc, that’s not my plan!”

I don’t remember much after that because my inner chatter went ballistic, overflowing with worst case scenarios. My mind had dropped a movie screen right down in front of me so I could watch the story of my life as a quadriplegic.

As I watched in horror, I saw my mom spoon feeding me, brushing my teeth, shaving my face, combing my hair, wiping my butt and dressing me. Being chauffeured everywhere I needed to go, never to ride a bike, a motorcycle or drive my car again. Thinking if I was lucky enough to have a wife, I would never be able to wrap my arms around her or be able to hold our baby in my arms.

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