Meeting Life — Mark Nepo

There is a part of me that wants to be Mark Nepo when I grow up. He’s a writer, a poet, a spiritual teacher and guide, a workshop and retreat leader. Wait a minute — I’m involved in all of that. So, a correction — there’s a part of me that wants to do all of those things at the scale of Mark Nepo. That’s the part of Mark Nepo that I want to be when I grow up.

Crazy statement, right? I’m 53. Oh ya, that. But then, life is a process of growing up isn’t it. It’s continual, this search for meaning and the sense-making of experience. It’s continual, this process of waking up to things spiritual, going to sleep so as not to face the challenges, and then sometimes crawling out of bed to begin again, drawn solely by the beauty of the single rose in the garden. I find that.

Crazy statement, right? I’ve never even met Mark Nepo. I don’t know if I’ve ever listened to his voice. But I will. I’m inspired to. A Youtube search will help. I’m inspired to start snooping for a workshop and retreat that I could get to. I’m inspired this morning to go back to the books that I have and let the words wash over me. That’s my experience with Mark Nepo words. They was over me. I often don’t read the whole book, because a paragraph, even randomly chosen, washes me and is enough for me to go looking for myself.

Kalaoa StonesSecond, I’m well aware of the phrase, “Be yourself. Everyone else is taken.” I just hate that phrase. Sometimes. Because it is more convenient to think of being somebody else. I want to be Mark Nepo when I grow up. It’s a balm to take unfolding self and project it on to others, thus avoiding the essential self journey, isn’t it. But then, let’s be kind. Becoming self is simultaneously 100% always happening, and, iterative too. It’s a kind of vacation to just imagine being someone else for a bit that inspires me to go back to work, with hopefully a bit of sand in my toes.

The caption below is from Mark Nepo’s weekly reflections. You can sign on to get these at I’m saying it’s well worth it.

Mark Nepo

When we can still ourselves, our heart will sink —of its own weight—below the noise of the world, the advice of others, and even our own expectations. Once that still, our mind can relax and we have the chance to inhale what matters. This is how we practice meeting life.

So when losing track of what I believe in, when wondering what work I’m called to next, I still my heart until I stop feeding the dark things that keep shouting they’re important. In that stillness, I ask myself: Where is the light coming from today? What do I have to do to put myself in its path? What part of me is illuminated for leaning into life? What can I learn by being so lighted? What is it my heart can’t keep from doing that will bring me more alive?

To lean into life requires a quiet courage that lets us find our aliveness. And the reward for leaning into life is that everything hidden becomes sweet and colorful. Or more, we are finally present enough to receive the sweetness and the color. Consider how a flower opens. It doesn’t prepare for a particular moment, but stays true to a life of leaning toward the light. When a flower blossoms, it turns inside out and wears its beauty in the world. As do we. In just this way, a soul opens over a lifetime of leaning into life.

Despite the hardships we encounter, the heart keeps opening after closing, the way day follows night. Until meeting life is our daily experiment in truth. No matter the obstacles, we’re asked to welcome the sweet teachers along the way. Until we accept that the secret kingdom is everywhere.