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Poem: Fighting the Instrument

From our poet of the month, Mark Nepo

Playing a guitar in the tree with stars


"The storm is not as important / as the path it opens."

Fighting the Instrument

Often the instruments of change
are not kind or just
and the hardest openness
of all might be
to embrace the change
while not wasting your heart
fighting the instrument.

The storm is not as important
as the path it opens.
The mistreatment in one life
never as crucial as the clearing
it makes in your heart.

This is very difficult to accept.
The hammer or cruel one
is always short-lived
compared to the jewel
in the center of the stone.

Listen to Nepo read 'Fighting the Instrument':

Mark Nepo shared his insight with S&H:

More than thirty years ago, I almost died from a rare form of lymphoma. One of the great lessons from that strident passage is that whatever opens us, whether harsh or loving, is never as important as what is opened in us. 

In truth, we often rail against the unfairness or injustice of what has brutally opened us, which can be true and legitimate. Yet, more than anything, our journey forward depends on how we meet and inhabit what has been opened in us. Like it or not, everyone and everything changes and we are challenged to accept the change without getting distracted by the pain we encounter along the way. This doesn’t mean that we minimize or deny our pain, but that we meet it and move through it into the clearing that life has made within us. I know this is very difficult to take in and to work with. 

All I can say is that being pried open to life has prepared me to keep a vow to stay open to life. And this has made a powerful and tender difference in the kind of life I have been able to live.

Excerpted from The Way Under the Way: The Place of True Meeting by Mark Nepo, published by Sounds True, November 2016.

More poems:

Deborah Anne Quibell's The Yellow Boat
Mark Nepo I Promise You

About the Author

Mark Nepo moved and inspired readers and seekers all over the world with his No. 1 New York...

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