Over the last few years, I’ve been collecting, evolving, and refining over 20 years of my poetry, which includes 217 poems collected in this book. These poems cover much of the ground in which I’ve been learning and growing with regards to the inner life.
One poem that is fundamental to the book is “Being Here.” When I was young, I found it hard to be here and to move through the world. Like many romantics, I wanted to transcend out of here. Of course, experience only landed me deeper into life. After my cancer journey, it became clear that there is nowhere to go, nowhere to transcend to but here. The image of sweeping a path though there is always more to sweep became a great teacher for me. That image led to this poem, which helps me stay on the path of living the one life I have to live.
Transcending down into
the ground of things is akin
to sweeping the leaves that
cover a path. There will always
be more leaves. And the heart
of the journey, the heart of our
own awakening, is to discover for
ourselves that the leaves are not
the ground, and that sweeping
them aside will reveal a path,
and finally, that to fully live,
we must take the path and
keep sweeping it.
For me, the poems are the teachers. They arrive with their wisdom and become my guides. What they surface becomes my inner curriculum and by staying in conversation with them, I grow. We’re all drawn to what we need to learn, which if engaged with honesty reveals insights common to us all.
My hope is that the arc of these poems will be aids in living, listening, and beholding each other. I offer them as small wonders found and cared for through the years. I hope you might find one that, held close to your heart, will serve as a guide.
By Mark Nepo