We greet as long lost friends,
having never before met
save sharing a place
a decade apart.
I strive to cling
to what was there
in that place, she,
fueled by the frustration,
has turned away
just because of it.
I go home to my words,
she to her art,
and we know
our paths will cross again.
Stand on the hill
and look into the valley.
Stand in the valley
and look upon the hill.
Do you see yourself
in either place, do you
see yourself in both
or are they one place
hidden from your vision.
A reflection on case 86 of the Shobogenzo (Dogen’s True Dharma Eye)
She imagines life
is much like a cocoon
in which she must remain
or risk instant death.
She does not recall coming here
but know she must have done so
in the not too distant past.
That is the problem with cocoons,
there is no memory prior
to finding yourself within,
but she doesn’t mind
for she has grown accustomed
to this life, likes that shelter
her home affords her.
She is certain she
will emerge some day, when
the time is right,
and she will take flight
leaving this life behind
in the receding darkness.
She walks with a deliberateness
that bespeaks years
of always knowing what the destination is.
Getting to the destination, she knows
is far less important than having one.
On occasion she would arrive
at her destination and would then
have no option but to immediately select
her next destination, for being
on one place too long was, to her,
a form of living death.
Many thought her a wanderer,
and she was fine with that.
She knew the shortest distance
between two points was a straight line
it was also just the most boring,
and for her it was really all about the trip.
It seems odd now, that he is here,
a place he never intended to be,
as it was a place he could not imagine,
yet he most certainly was here.
If you asked him why he was here,
he would answer that he had to be
somewhere, and here is where it was,
just as your being here is just
as it had to be, for you are here.
He points to a sign over his palette bed,
which simply reads “You Are Here,”
and says, I take it everywhere I go
and it has never been wrong yet.
The bell rings for the evening zazen
and as he assumes his place on the mat,
the Buddha seems to smile and say
to us both, You are where you should be.
She knew for a certainty that
the shortest distance from here to there
would be the one route he
was incapable of finding.
It had always been like this,
impatient to get somewhere, he
trying to accommodate her, yet
still finding the most circuitous route.
He was always embarrassed, apologized
profusely until the day the solution appeared.
For the first time she wanted to meander
to get there eventually, to see what
they might find along the way, to stop
for a good reason and for no reason.
And that was the day he discovered
that all you needed to do
was follow a straight line.
She said, “As we get older
we start to come from the place
we only wished we were from,
and the place from which we came,
becomes the place from which
we are now glad we never visited.”
He said, “As I age, my youth changes,
and the things I say I did are increasingly,
the things I wish I had done,
and what I did and wish I hadn’t
are things that now never happened.”
She smiled, “it’s hard to believe
that now we never met in that one place
neither of us says we have been,
and yet here we are
in the midst of our created history.”