July 19 – The Wisdom in Blinking – Mark Nepo, The Book of Awakening

Asleep too long, we need to wake. Awake too long, we need to sleep. 

We blink a thousand times a day. A thousand times a day the world goes dark. A thousand times a day we wake. We can’t escape this opening and closing. It’s a reflex we can’t control. Even as you read this, your eyes, along with your heart and mind, are blinking – opening and closing repeatedly, no matter what you do. It is part of being human.

Yet so much depends on which you see as home Рbeing open or closed. Do you see life as a stream of light interspersed with nights of dark, or as one stream of darkness interspersed with days of light? Though there will never be an answer, what we believe about the nature of life matters. It lifts or burdens our days. So ask yourself, more than once, is life one long miracle of feeling interspersed with moments of breaking? Do we repeatedly fall in our humanness from a never-ending light? Or is life one long  painful breaking interspersed with moments of wonder? Do we struggle up from the unending dark briefly into glimpses of light?

Obviously, there are times we feel one way and times we are certain it is the other. There are even times we know it is both. But how we allow for both – how much we make the light our home and how much we settle into the dark – determines the personal alchemy of our hope and despair, our optimism and pessimism, our belief and doubt.

My journey has been mixed. Entering surgery, I was certain life was dark and I couldn’t keep my eyes open. But waking from surgery, I was certain that all that had changed while I was under. Now everything was buoyant and I could barely close my eyes to rest. The same thing has happened when posting love. I felt closed and dark and unable to open. Yet falling in love has always made life one singing interval of light during which I can barely sleep.

Perhaps the wisdom in blinking is that it keeps us in the middle, keeps us from drowning in the dark and from burning up in the light. Perhaps this is the reflex that lets us make sense of being human.

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