by Ellen Bedrosian
I recently attended a workshop given by Mark Nepo to celebrate the publication of his latest book Things That Join the Sea and the Sky: Field Notes on Living at the Open Center in New York City. I traveled into the city clutching the magical belief that if I got near enough to him, maybe some of his musical art for language would rub off on me. The entries in his daybook, The Book of Awakening, are beautifully crafted essays brimming with the mystic passion of Rumi poems.
During the question and answer period, I asked him how he came up with his ideas. How he thought of such exquisite imagery. I confessed that I was in awe and that, quite frankly, felt intimidated after reading his books.
He nodded in understanding and said he that he doesn’t struggle to write. From years and years of daily journaling, he has developed a system of listening and retrieving. He gets still and lets the ideas flow. “A journal is the place where we sketch the truth of our heart,” he said. “To keep in view what is true and honors the truth of my own experience.” From journaling, we can find our own truth, what makes us whole.
His advice to me and the other workshop attendees was not to strive to write like someone we admire, but to listen to what is authentic and true in ourselves. Mark describes his poetry as an “utterance of the soul.” If we get still and listen, we will hear our own soul speaking to us.