I’ve been watching stars rely on the darkness they resist. And fish struggle with and against the current. And hawks glide faster when their wings don’t move. Still I keep retelling what happens will it comes out the way I want. We try so hard to be the main character when it is our point of view that keeps us from the truth. The sun has its story that no curtain can stop. It’s true. The only way beyond the self is through it. The only way to listen to what can never be said is to quiet our need to steer the plot. When jarred by life, we might unravel the story we tell ourselves and discover the story we are in, the one that keeps telling us.
-Mark Nepo, from “Understory”
When my children were very little we had a Ukrainian nanny who absolutely adored our children. And when they’d misbehave, I would ask Lessia, a wise mother with a Master’s Degree in Psychology, if this particular act was “ploko”, Russian for bad. And she’d always answer, “Nyet, eta khorosho, dazhe ochen khorosho”, which means no, it’s good, actually very good. She would see defiance as a sign of strength and clutter as a sign of creativity.
Lessia had a way of seeing the whole picture, understanding that all these tiny things we fixate on are part of a large, loving, intelligent design, and that challenging situations lead to greater and better things.
My kids aren’t so little anymore and Lessia sadly lives a continent away from us, but her words remain a constant mantra for me. They remind me that good awaits us, even if at the moment we don’t feel it or see it.
So when I came upon this poem by Mark Nepo, I was reminded of Lessia’s words. I was reminded that maybe the best thing we can do is get out of our own way, go beyond our beliefs of what we need or don’t need in this very moment, beyond our ideas of “good” and “bad”, and connect to the greater story that is good, actually very good.