Too many prints in the same place,
because the heart's a narrow path
and our arms its only gate.

That all the ways we've been touched merge in the ground of who we are is a blessing, a gift of being human. It is what the sages of all traditions have called peace--the elusive moment that all things become one. That we can't sort our feelings and memories once the soil of our experience is tilled is the nature of staying alive. That we insist on keeping old wounds alive is our curse.

Yet, as Thich Nhat Hanh reminds us, 'Our mind of love may be buried deep under many layers of forgetfulness and suffering.' The difference, I'm learning, is in what we focus on. When I focus on the rake of experience and how its fingers dug into me and the many feet that have walked over me, there is no end to the life of my pain. But when I focus on the soil of heart and how it has been turned over, there is no end to the mix of feelings that defy my want to name them.

Tragedy stays alive by feeling what's been done to us, while peace comes alive by living with the result.

  • Center yourself, and as you breathe, feel your heart with its thousand feelings beat within your chest.
  • Breathe in a slow rhythm, and let one experience rise that has helped to shape you.
  • For the moment, focus on the rake of this experience; focus on the actions you received.
  • Now focus on the soil of this experience; focus on the result of being tilled by life.
  • Note and feel the difference.

-Mark Nepo, The Book of Awakening, June 2nd