“Before stories were recorded, what happened to the living was told and retold around fires, on cliffs, and in the shade of enormous trees. And it is said that somewhere on the edge of what was known and unknown, a man and a woman paused in their struggles to survive and faced each other. One asked the other, “Is there more to this than hauling wood?” The older of the two sighed, “Yes... And no.”

This may have been the beginning of our sense of being and our search for meaning. I imagine these two faced everything we face.

For the journey is the same: How to open our pain and listen to all that matters, so we can make it through and rejoice from day to day.

Like those before us, we have the chance to wake and love, the chance to welcome the gift of surprise and befriend the Whole.

For beneath the life of problem-solving waits the struggle to be real, from which no one is exempt.

We each are asked to make our way through the drama of our bleeding to the stripping of our will, through the tensions of our suffering to the humility of surrender where we might learn the ordinary art of living at the pace of what is real.

So, is there more to this than hauling the wood of our history around? More than just replaying our patterns? Whether yesterday or 5000 years ago, there has always been the need to break our habits in the world—the need to give up what no longer works.

Ultimately, there is always the need to risk being new. Yet even succeeding, to be authentic—living as close to our experience as possible—is arduous.

For being human, we remember and forget.

We stray and return, fall down and get up, and cling and let go, again and again. But it is this straying and returning that makes life interesting, this clinging and letting go—damned as it is—that exercises the heart.

They say that, after a time, the two who paused on the edge of what was known and unknown stumbled into humility. “Please, tell me, is there more to this than hauling wood?” the one would ask again. And the more tired of the two replied, “No, no. It is all in the hauling, all in the wood, all in how we face each other around the small fires we can build.”

It was then that they rested, as we rest, when accepting the grace of our humanness.

You see, we’ve always been on a journey, like it or not, aware of it or not, struggling to enter and embrace things as they are. And when we can accept our small part in the way of things, when we can build a small fire and gather, it opens us to joy. So join me on this journey we are already on.

We can help each other hold nothing back.

We can help each other live a sincere life. We can help each other wear down what gets in the way, waking close to the bone.


There are teachers everywhere: in the stories around us, in the stories within us, in the life of expression that sings where we are broken, in the kinship of gratitude that keeps reminding us that we need each other as we become the earth.” -Mark Nepo