“Our challenge is not to choose between the fragility and strength of life…” by Mark Nepo

“Our challenge is not to choose between the fragility and strength of life but to cultivate our wonder by holding both in our heart.” Mark Nepo


I have been a fan of Mark Nepo, poet, philosopher, and  storyteller, for two decades. Mark is someone who had a rare cancer in his 30’s and it woke him up. This poem is longer than I would ordinarily post but it has much to say that is important. If you read it aloud slowly to yourself, at least twice, you may be surprised. I will also record it on Sound Cloud and the link will be in the notes.

This poem needs nothing else.



How could I know
creating and surviving
were so close

a membrane apart,
a pulsing, glowing film.

How could I know
each day
the last
the first

and beneath
that tension,
if we wade below it
like the surface
of a sea, a chance
only coral
can feel

and there
we grow
so thoroughly
that breaking
and healing,

and surviving,
first and
last are
one, the

the tensions
of psychology,
beneath the
pockets of doubt,
beneath the
prospect of
days to be lived
or not lived,

a moment
so calm
it is

and I smile
through my
whole body
just to have
a body,
just to have
this orchestra within

that plays
to no conductor.

Will you believe me then,
that like the Zen monk
who finds wisdom
in his fears,
who hears more
than he can say,

will you believe me
that no matter what
is shucked or diagnosed
or bled, I would
trade places
with no one,
with all.

My purpose,
at last,
to hold

My goal:
to live
a thousand years,
not in succession,
but in every


Note 1:) Here is the link to the Mark Nepo poem For That

Note 2:) Some music to follow the poem. Gluck: Dance of the Blessed Spirits “In Gluck’s 1762 opera, Orfeo ed Euridice, the ‘Dance of the Blessed Spirits’ ballet moment is flute-heavy and beautiful. Pluck it out as a standalone piece, and allow the juxtaposition of the mournful slow melody with the light ‘minuet’ dance transport you to another place entirely.” Classic FM London, England

Note 3:) And a little humor from our sufi friend Nasruddin: “

Nasruddin was sitting in the coffeehouse drinking coffee with one of his friends. They were talking about this and that, and Nasruddin’s friend asked, “Just how old are you, Nasruddin?”
“I’m fifty years old,” replied Nasruddin, taking a sip of his coffee.
His friend thought for a moment and then said, “Fifty years old? Really? I’m sure that’s what you told me when I asked you your age several years ago.”  “That’s right. I said I was fifty years old then, and I’m sticking to my story!” said Nasruddin. “I’m a man of my word; you can count on it.”  (Attribution: Tiny Tales from India by Laura Gibbs. Version: July 8 2020.)

Note 4:) Thank you for coming by  to read my scribbles. And in the case of today, the beautiful writing of Mark Nepo. I send my warmest wishes to you all and the hope that you are finding bright moments in every day. With appreciation, Trudy

12 replies
  1. gottfried
    gottfried says:

    Oh my – powerful! and after reading twice, slowly, I want to read it several more times just to let it sink in deeper, absorb it, like some healing elixir.
    A thousand thanks for this Trudy.

    PAT FREAM says:

    Beautiful Trudy. I too am a Mark Nepo fan and I have this poem on my closet wall so I can read and ‘absorb it’ (as Gottfried said) often. Thanks for releasing it into this full-moon day so more hearts can embrace it fully.

  3. Emma Rooney
    Emma Rooney says:

    “The Gluck: Dance of the Blessed Spirits” is so special! Thank you for sharing Trudy. I don’t know it, and it reminded me that I haven’t been playing my classical music which has always been so important in my life growing up. While cooking this week, I actually watched the 2021 New Year Concert from Vienna which I somehow missed this year, likely because we didn’t have a full family gathering at my parents’ place (where it would always be played). Hopefully this year will be different!

    • T Boyle
      T Boyle says:

      I’m happy to hear that you enjoyed it Emma. I too watch the Vienna New Year’s concert. Fingers crossed that everyone will gather together this Christmas with their families. Thank you for your thoughtful note. Best wishes, Trudy


Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *