"This being human is a series of / blindnesses that come and go. / But we can outlive our mistakes,"
Knowing, Drinking, and Seeking
Without knowing who I am—
that is, without finding the place
where God and I join—I will
become everyone I love.
Without drinking from the quiet—
that is, without listening for the place
from which all living things speak—
I will talk too much and wonder
why I’m not heard.
Without seeking the self that lives
beneath all names, all my attempts
at kindness will fail, for everything
I do will turn everyone in need
This being human is a series of
blindnesses that come and go.
But we can outlive our mistakes,
for the mysterious river is always
near and greater than our thirst.
Excerpted from The Way Under the Way: The Place of True Meeting by Mark Nepo, published by Sounds True, November 2016.
Listen to Nepo read "Knowing, Drinking, and Seeking":
Mark Nepo shared his insight with S&H:
I was led to this poem when trying to understand the difference between being clear and confused. I came to realize by entering this expression that there are many ways to project what we need onto others and many ways to give ourselves away.
Without doing the work of a true self, without facing what is ours to face and feeling what is ours to feel, we will have no center and become everyone we care about. And without being still enough to listen, we will make so much noise that no one will come near us. And finally, without a transparency beyond our own needs, we will, even meaning well, turn everyone we meet into some version of our need.
Just as a skilled swimmer and an awkward one will both be carried downstream by the deeper current, life will carry each of us, whether we are accomplished or not, or graceful or not. It is humbling that we are each carried by the Spirit that informs life, no matter where we come from or what we hope to do.