It’s about to be dark outside. Yet I’m still not home. I know it takes four hours in the car to drive from Mississippi to Alabama.
But I’m not in a car.
I’m on a tricycle.
Thankfully, I wake up. It was a dream. It’s a recurring one. I often dream about wacky modes of transportation, trying to get from here to there.
I laugh about these dreams when I’m awake. But when I’m asleep, the slow progress and the looming distance ahead in inadequate vehicles are torturous.
That’s why I need to read authors like Mark Nepo in my non-sleep hours. He keeps me awake to my real life so I can move forward, even when it’s hard.
And it’s been hard the past two years. I keep falling down, only to have to get back up again. And again. And again.
So this latest book by Mark Nepo is right on time: Falling Down and Getting Up: Discovering Your Inner Resilience and Strength.
Nepo frames our challenges as opportunities for deepening. He asks us to befriend our fears, pains, and griefs, not be crippled by them.
How? Like many spiritual teachers, Nepo advices that one way is to stay present in this moment because fear gains its power from the future and the past.
“Strength and resolve are always restored through the complete surrender of our naked attention.”
So stay aware of now. Pay attention to this. Face life here.
“Fear gains its power from not looking. Consider the proverbial boogeyman in the closet. The longer we don’t look, the bigger the boogeyman gets. Until some kind grandfather or aunt takes us by the hand, saying, ‘Well, why don’t we take a look in there, together?'”
And after we look under the bed—even if what we see causes us to fall down again—get back up, and be willing to accept help as needed.
“While nothing can minimize the pain and loss that comes from falling down, nothing can keep us from helping each other up.“
We all have falls. Many falls. But the damage comes when we refuse to get back up.
So be willing to begin again. Open to where you are.
And do it often. I have to choose each day to begin again.
Not Here to There, But In to Out
Fortunately, it’s highly unlikely that I’ll ever have to travel from Mississippi to Alabama on a tricycle. That’s just for my nightmares. But even if I did, by beginning again each day, I’d eventually make it.
This journey through life—one that we each are on—might feel as daunting as riding a skateboard or a unicycle through mountainous terrain (yes, I’ve had those dreams, too). But as Nepo writes in Falling Down and Getting Up:
“The inescapable truth is that we don’t travel from here to there, but from in to out.”
You bring what lives within you out into the world each time you get back up again.
It’s less about where we’re going but how we’re growing.
Get back up again today and see.
Do you have crazy transportation dreams, too? Share your thoughts in the comments.
My thanks to NetGalley + St Martin’s
Press for the review copy of this book.
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