12/30/2013 02:47 pm ET Updated Mar 01, 2014

Next to a Gull

When in the crucible of a difficult life change, I went to be by the sea, to clear my head, to open my heart, to imagine next steps. What I found was the beauty and resilience of life waiting under my trouble and all trouble. It helped me look beneath my pain and confusion to remember that while what happens when we're alive can be alarming and disappointing, the fact that we're alive is all that matters. In this very moment, a gull landed a few feet away, as if to look out into the sea with me.

Next to a Gull

Robert held my head and quoted
Buddha, "Thoughts are clouds keep-
ing you from the sky of your mind."

And today I wake before Susan
in this B&B to walk this shore
where there isn't a cloud in the sky.

The ribbon of surf keeps rolling on
itself, keeps interrupting my want
to make sense of this.

A gull lands near me. We both listen
to the sea. The sea prefers neither of
us. It prefers to be the sea.
The sun warms us all.
It is simply the sun.

After 60 years, this is what life
has taught me: life-force is strongest
when simply living.

At the deepest, the soul is the soul
and friends are friends. There is
little else to count on.

A Question to Walk With: Name and discuss one thing in your life that you feel is foundational and that you can rely on.

For more poetry for the soul, click here.

For more by Mark Nepo, click here.