11/14/2012 03:50 pm ET Updated Jan 14, 2013

Hooked From Above

I used to feel inconsistent, because my moods would change. I'd want solitude, then when alone, couldn't wait to be with others. I'd want to be still and walk slowly through the woods, but once there for a while, couldn't wait to hear live music. It took years to realize that being dynamic beings, one mood leads to another. We need them all to stay close to our aliveness. This poem comes out of the many moods.

When up, I want down, when in,
I want out. When alone, I want to-
gether. When feeling the safety of
order that hard work has opened, I
want to be wild. After so many years,
I understand it's really about neither.
Like fish with strong tails, it's about
nosing in and out of currents. It's the
turn where tail and current are one.
Just as the moment of breaking lands
us in the history of all breaking. As
the unexpected rejection undoes our
whole identity. It seems it shouldn't
but here we are, losing all that is fa-
miliar with no anesthetic. But this is
how the soul progresses. Like a mythic
fish who hooked from above simply
slips out of its old skin, swimming
on in the new. I know this seems
impossible even as it happens. But
this is when the heart is its own god.

A Question to Walk With: Describe one thing you've learned from being alone. Describe one thing you've learned from being with others. What is your rhythm of solitude and community?

For more Poetry for the Soul, click here.

For more by Mark Nepo, click here.