Mark Nepo's Weekly Reflection: What It Means to Perceive

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There was a particular moment of perception that transformed me completely. I had had a bone-marrow sampling and a spinal tap during the same hospital visit. Afterward, I was sent home a bit battered and told to lie still for six to eight hours, because moving before the spinal fluid had a chance to regenerate would cause a migraine. Well, it was hard for me to be still, and every time I moved, I was thrust back down on the couch in pain.

It was as if the force of life was insisting that I be still. When I was, I finally looked out the window to see an apple tree in my front yard. I had seen this tree a hundred times, yet never really looked at it. Now, unable to move without inducing pain, I was forced into a moment of indigenous perception. Seeing the apple tree freshly, it came alive, and I listened to the tree for the very first time.

Strange as it was, the apple tree spoke to me, not in words but with a bare presence that said, “When you survive this, there will be no more making things up. When you survive, you will only bear witness to the truth of things as they are.”

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