It’s all a question of knowing where to look for one, but ask what would you do if you stumbled across it. It’s not a simple decision, nor should it be. The better question still is how you will know when you finally find it, for it is marked only deep within your heart.
Tonight I will again walk through my dream scrapbook re-creating you. For a bit longer, at least, I have full creative expression knowing now that you died six years ago, never married. I will search from the carefully or inadvertently dropped clue, your obituary, bits and facts that could never have come from the adoption file, beacons however faint that will lead me into the harbor of my true identity. But for now I can imagine you sitting in a corner at the singles dance, looking as your sisters pleaded for a nice young man, long past being fussy. It didn’t take much for him to sweep you away, at least for that one evening, away from the teletype keyboard, away from the cramped apartment. I do wonder if your brother finished college, was at the same one you left when the war made money tight. I can fashion all of these things into an ever shifting mural of my own life, but soon enough I will search, and with some luck will find our shared name. I may never see your face save in the mirror or the eyes of my granddaughter, but in her smile, in the smile of your grandson, I know you better than you could ever have imagined.
We walk forwards to try to see where we are going, always wanting but never seeing where we have been. Is it better to walk backward seeing clearly where we will not go without idea of a destination. Look down and decide.
A reflection on Case 92 of the Shobogenzo (Dogen’s True Dharma Eye)
He feels like a rock cast into a river partially rising above the water now forced to flow around him. It pulls at him, seems to say you belong in the sea, let us carry you there, but he can no longer move and knows he will meet the ocean in bits pulled off by the jetsam of other people’s lives as it flows past him on this leg of its endless journey.
The oddest thing about being Buddhist is what I once was, and not just in a prior life. Born, it turns out, and adopted into a secular Jewish family, I must still be Jewish even if I might have lapsed back to secularity, they say, because my Jewishness is a mark, Cain-like it seems, though I always lacked the nose for the role. Some a bit more knowing remind me that I can be both, though they can’t imagine why anyone would. I tell them I’m simply, only Buddhist and not-think what that really means.
She said, “I truly think that a large part of your problem is that you spend too much time thinking about what other people think of you.” He wasn’t inclined to agree, but she did think that so he had to give it consideration. “I don’t think so,” he replied, “but if you think so, then perhaps.” “What I think doesn’t matter,” she said, smiling, “I remember some of the best advice I have ever been given, ‘What other people think of me is simply none of my business.'”