How We Arrive

How We Arrive March 13, 2023

It doesn’t matter how we arrive,

just that we do. Tolstoy wrote thirteen

drafts of the first chapter of War and

Peace. He kept circling what matters

like a hawk sensing something

stirring underground.


And having gathered 42 poets

at Orchid Pavilion, Wang Xizhi

floated cups of wine downstream

and those who lifted the cups had to

compose a poem or drink the wine.

At the end of this day in 353 AD,

37 poems had been retrieved and

Wang wrote his Preface to the Poems

Composed at Orchid Pavilion right

there with his feet in the stream.


Years later, Emperor Taizong, who

achieved greatness by not responding

to criticism or praise, admired Wang’s

calligraphy so much that he had the

original Preface buried with him.


Though we may never see it coming,

we can be cracked open by the storm

or become wise like the axle of an

old wagon growing tarnished

season by season.

From The Half-Life of Angels: Three Books of Poems by Mark Nepo


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