In my twenties, I lived under a veil of neediness that came from feeling unworthy.
I could never be certain that I was loved, and so I worked very hard to be
indispensable to others, hoping to make myself needed. Then, I thought, those I
cared about would have to love me. It was almost dying of cancer in my thirties
that ripped the veil of neediness from me.
Breathing in the hospital at night after surgery, I saw the world without veils. I
suddenly heard the others breathing around me. For the first time, my simple
breathing was enough. I didn’t have to do anything to be loved. Suddenly, being
human was being a piece of nature. I doubt if a fish or bird or fox feels unworthy.
I was alive in a quiet way I’d never been aware of.
Since then, I’ve learned that life covers us with its veils, and living lifts the veils.
And we must remain devoted to the lifting of veils. The great Hindu poet
Rabindranath Tagore points to how: “It is part of a poet’s religion to [engage] a
solemn faith in [their] own function, to realize that [they are] specially called to
collaborate with [their] Creator in adding to the joy of existence.”
Again, I think this applies to more than poets, for this is everyone’s fate. We all
collaborate with the Universe “in adding to the joy of existence.” This is our work
in being here. And when I’m stuck behind yet another veil, when I’m feeling bad
about myself for getting enmeshed one more time, I recall that unencumbered
breath in the hospital that was veil free, and declare myself to the Universe, the
way a hawk might screech as it leaves a tangle of branches. The truth is that
while I will always be a poet, the way a fish will always be a fish, it has always
been so I can know the depth that carries me.
At times, the hardest work before us is to part our veil so we can know the deep.
And writing is a way to pull a thread and unravel our veil over time.
A Question to Walk With: Describe a veil you are currently struggling to lift and what your next step might be.
This excerpt is from my book, Drinking from the River of Light.
Information about his upcoming webinars, including Mark’s new webinar, Falling Down and Getting Up: Discovering Your Inner Resilience and Strength, that starts October 29th can be found at Live.MarkNepo.com.
Nov 9-12: Santa Sabina Center, San Rafael, CA, Four-Day Retreat, Surviving Storms: Finding the Strength to Meet Adversity. (web link)
Dec 8-10: St Andrews, Jackson, MI, Weekend Retreat, Falling Down and Getting Up, Register Here
Feb 5-10: Modern Elder Academy, Baja, Mexico, Falling Down and Getting Up: Discovering Your Own Resilience and Strength (web link)
2024-2025 Yearlong Journey: 4 Weekends in Kalamazoo, MI, The One Life We’re Given: Finding the Wisdom That Waits in Your Heart (web link)
If you’d like to order Mark’s new book, Falling Done and Getting Up: Discovering Your Inner Resilience and Strength, click here: