following the path you can’t see, part 2

A few months back, I wrote about the challenges of following the spiritual path, which more often than not involves long stretches of not being able to see where you’re going or why, climbing and climbing an uphill route with no idea what you’ll find when you get to the top and can finally glimpse the next leg of your journey. Sometimes when you get to the top, you’re no more enlightened: you may find yourself standing at the top of the hill looking down at a fog-filled valley, unyielding and inscrutable.

The curve balls (lessons?) along the way can be jarring and disorienting, making it hard to keep one’s footing and stay on the path—especially the big ones, like divorce or the loss of a job, the ones that really turn your life on its ear and make you wonder, How the hell am I going to get through this, and what is my life going to look like when I do? Continue reading

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unexpected paths, part 1

You may have noticed that I’ve been mostly in absentia for the last month or so. It’s been quite the series of events, and I’m still getting my footing, but here I am, with some beginning thoughts on recent events.

The condensed version is that I’d had a persistent cough for a while and had begun to be short of breath doing things like walking up the basement steps. (I might not be dancing full-time anymore, but I walk the trails regularly with my dog, and I still choreograph the occasional musical theatre production, so I’m in relatively good shape, so this was not not normal.) I finally went to an Urgent Care, where they took an X-ray and saw a bunch of stuff in my lungs that shouldn’t be there. The thing was, no one could agree on what it was. Fast forward…again, condensed version…it took three weeks, a lung biopsy, and a week in the hospital to finally diagnose me: Continue reading

the issue of fairness ~mark nepo

As long as we see what has come to pass as
being unfair, we’ll be a prisoner of
what might have been.

This is a very painful issue to discuss for most of us, because so much of how we see the world hinges on a sense of fairness and justice, those truly noble human concepts that govern how we treat each other.

But the laws of experience in the natural world, in which we have no choice but to live, do not work this way. Rather, the larger Universe, of which humankind is a small part, is a world of endless possibility and endless cycle, a world in which life forms come and go, a world itself that has erupted and reformed countless times.

This is why the Hindu tradition has a deity known as Vishnu, who both destroys and bestows life, often in that order. Continue reading

at random ~mark nepo

Photo by Lisa Tate

Random is the instant a horse at full speed
has all four hooves off the ground.

This is the original meaning of the word. It refers to the mystery of unbridled passion, to the lift that results from total immersion and surrender. In our age, however, random means without design, method, or purpose. It refers to utter chance. It helps us dismiss whatever appears to be beyond the control of our will. If we didn’t author it, it must be accidental.

Yet our lives are full of unexpected surges of kindness that seem to come from nowhere. Just when you’re thirsty, a cup is gathered and passed around.  Just when you are lonely to the point of snapping that bone way inside that you show no one, someone offers you a ride or steadies the grocery bag about to drop from your grip. Just when you feel nothing can raise your sad head from the lonely road, the deer stutter across the road in exact rhythm with Handel.

So what might we learn from the horse at random? Continue reading

ubuntu ~mark nepo

Ubuntu—I am because you are,
you are because I am…

In the winter, I met a man in South Africa. After several days together, I asked him about Ubuntu. He said, “It is a deep African custom.” He did not explain, but rather repeated its meaning, more slowly and with deeper reverence, “It means…I am because you are; you are because I am…Ubuntu.”

It is something I have always believed in, that in the ignited space of our deepest suffering, in the release of our deepest fears, in the familiar peace of our deepest joys, we are each other. Continue reading