December 7 – We Have This Choice – Mark Nepo, The Book of Awakening

The heart is a strong shore and the ocean has many moods.

With each day, we have this choice: we can build walls, block ourselves from the light, and suffer a dampness in the soul. Or we can live barely, shine on through, and suffer the nicks of erosion for living in the open.

Most of us, myself included, live behind walls that were started by others and finished by ourselves. Very often, we fear each other without reason—the wall builders and those who shine on through. But it really comes down to how to make it through life—safely or fully. I confess this comes from one who struggles to shine on through, because in the end, not being touched by life is not that safe after all. What I’ve learned is that the more I risk being who I am—like a sun daring to shine— the thinner the walls need to be outside me.

My first experience of this was a painful moment as a boy in which my mother had ordered me to do something.We were alone in my room, and I said no. I don’t remember what it was she asked of me, only that her demand was demeaning and unnecessary. I wasn’t belligerent, just quietly firm. I remember fearfully building a wall as fast as I could in anticipation of her anger.I had barely prepared myself when she drew her arm behind her head and slapped me with a vengeance. The wall hadn’t worked. My very soul had been struck.

She went to strike me again, but by this time my soul had somehow reflexed into a strength of selfness that she couldn’t penetrate. I glowed. She stalled in mid swing and called my father to enforce her demand. He felt my brightness, but held the line and struck me too. By the time he landed, I was shining through. It hurt, for sure, but I was protected.

There are times walls are necessary, but more often we can protect ourselves by being who we are. Neither hiding nor revealing ourselves will prevent our share of pain, but in being who we are, we get to be a part of the Universal stream, not just a nut in a shell waiting to fall.


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