In my sixty-eighth year, I saw a dancer, middle-aged, outside a café. I was at a conference in California and she was hired to dance at lunch time in the open. I sipped my coffee and watched her for a while. Most of us were busy going to what was next. Something in how she leapt and landed softened me. For she was so thoroughly herself that there was nowhere to go. And I realized that all of us were there to find what she had found.
It’s been a week since I flew home. And I’m up early, having dreamt of the dancer being herself. And before the sun comes up, I realize Mom, now that you’re gone, that this was all you ever wanted—to find a spot in the sun where you could leap out from under the turmoil of your life and be thoroughly yourself.
Under all your anger and darkness, you were trying to find your dance. If you had only let me know. If only, when I had come home from college to tell you I was a poet though I had written nothing, if only you had taken my hand and shared your dream and your pain, we could have searched together. But instead, you swirled your dark wine and said, “You’ll see sweetie, dreams die hard.”
You painted the world with your disappointment till you couldn’t see the sun. Oh Mom, I wish you had taken my hand. I wish we had a different story. In my sixty-eighth year, I finally see the softer part of you before you walled it in. It took a lifetime, but it reached me anyway.
A Question to Walk With: Tell the story of someone who you’ve seen more completely over many years. What kept you from seeing them in their full humanity? What led you to see more of them?
*Photo Credit: David Hofmann
On August 29 Mark will be offering a free reading and conversation on centered on the theme Growing in Place: Strengthening Our Roots (Aug 29, 2020, 1-3PM ET). Registration info is at live.marknepo.com.
He is also offering 3-session webinar in October called More Together Than Alone: The Power and Spirit of Community (Oct 4, 11, 18, 2020, 1-2:30PM ET).
Registration for the this webinar will open Sept 1 at live.marknepo.com. If you’re moved to join either of these, Mark looks forward to meeting you.