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Keeping the Colors Wet

Another simple, yet profound, entry in Mark Nepo’s The Book of Awakening.

The longer I live, the harder it is to discern between the stronger emotions.  They all spill into each other where they begin.  The longer I go, though, the more I can tell between not feeling and feeling.  For this is all that seems to matter.  Not feeling puts me on the sideline, makes the world black and white, and me, a dry shade of gray.  Only feeling keeps me in the scene, keeps the colors wet.

The other day was very wet.  I went for groceries and the old man packing bags was staring off.  I knew by his heavy, silver eyes that he was a widower, and just as he lifted my nonfat cottage cheese, he was seeing her floating somewhere before him, and the soda and the swordfish and the English muffins were piling up as the black belt kept moving, and I gently took the cottage cheese from his hand, and he returned, looking at me, a bit dizzy to still be here.

I’ve worked so long and hard to be able to feel my way into the lives of others, only to realize we are all this way, and it is not just sad, it is more than sad.  It is the ground of heart where we all meet.  Sometimes the skin of mind is torn and we are no longer separate beings.  When the talking’s done, we become still proofs of love.  I left the store that day feeling more than one heart should and couldn’t tell if I was in trouble or on holy ground.

It must be holy ground.

[Post image: Watercolour 5 by ba1969 on stock.xchng]

4 Comments


  1. Lindsey
    Nov 19, 2011

    I love this book, and am making my way slowly through it. xoxo


    • Elissa
      Nov 20, 2011

      Oh, Lindsey, I’m glad you’ve found the book. So many ideas to savor slowly. xo


  2. kelly g.
    Nov 20, 2011

    so I am wondering as I find myself (over the last several months) lost in these feelings of “what’s the point”, does that mean I have moved over to the sidelines of the not feeling? It seems that way. And if so, how do I make the connection to get back into the scene? Another load of laundry, another meal, another book, another load of laundry…and what about my dreams/goals–it worries me that I have gone so far as to question what is the point of pursing them? To what end? Is Mr. Nepo telling me I am not alone in this? Or that the still proofs of love can help pull me out of this and help me to see the elusive point? Sorry to sound so negative about this my friend but am wondering if you/your readers have some thoughts on this or a shared experience. Then again, maybe I am way off on trying to apply what he has written to my own place/life? Love you friend. kel


    • Elissa
      Nov 21, 2011

      Good question, Kel. I think Nepo is saying (although I hesitate to translate him, because maybe he didn’t mean this at all!) is that sometimes he feels so much, he feels not only his own “stuff” but that of others, because he’s tried to be cognizant of what’s going on around him. And I would suspect this could be exhausting, if you allow that “feeling” to change who you are, but invigorating if you can see that we all feel so very deeply. We are the same, in essence.

      I don’t think I’d label your experience as good or bad. It just is. If you’re having difficulty seeing the point of everyday routine (haven’t we all?), then sit with that as long as you have to. Ask yourself why you think you’re here (in this life you’re leading). If you don’t know, that’s okay. It’ll come to you, I think, in time. And the answer may surprise you; it may be different from what you’ve been told it’s supposed to be.

      I’ve been in the “not-feeling” zone many times (for longish periods of time). I tend to anesthetize myself to the pain of life, to the people I don’t want to engage with, to the responsibilities I’d rather not have. It’s the syndrome of waking up each morning thinking, “Here we go again.” I think you have to state what you feel…that you’re in this place…and maybe ask “Why?” and “How might I see this differently?”…NOT because it’s wrong to feel that way, but because, over time, it’s depressing, and you’ll want some sort of encouraging vision or purpose to keep you going. Does that make sense?

      I think, too, if you know that everyone feels this way sometimes, that may encourage you, to know you’re not alone.

      You know my mantra. “Baby steps, baby steps.” I come back to that, because in my life, I try to see the everyday things, to breathe in the moment, and try to accept what’s happening without labeling it good or bad. And then the beauty so overwhelms me, that I’m grateful to have seen it or experienced it. If these moments are too few for you, perhaps you need to cut some stuff out. LOL. I know it’s not that easy, believe me. But ultimately, you’ll have to determine why life is burdensome and painful…too much of the time.

      Now I’m rambling…LOL. I’m just trying to reassure you. To listen to that voice in your heart. To hear what it’s trying to tell you. And to sit and wait. Waiting is good. Not having all the answers is not a tragedy. It will come to you. One day, you’ll just know what you have to do. xo

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The quote I live by

Have patience with everything that remains unsolved in your heart. Try to love the questions themselves, like locked rooms and like books written in a foreign language. Do not now look for the answers. They cannot now be given to you because you could not live them. It is a question of experiencing everything. At present you need to live the question. Perhaps you will gradually, without even noticing it, find yourself experiencing the answer, some distant day.
--Rainer Maria Rilke in Letters to a Young Poet

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