I spent too much time looking backward, looking into the past, looking into the mirror to frame a dream history of my desires and fears. He called one morning, left a message, “Mother died, more details will follow.” A mother his by birth, mine by legal act. I should have felt stunned anger, I said quietly to myself he’s cocky, has issues, and went about momentary mourning. That is the psyche of the adoptee who was never family, always an adjunct. Later my antediluvian dreams gave way under a torrent of deoxyribonucleic acid rain. She who I imagined in the mirror took name, took shape from and old yearbook, offered a history, a family, a heritage. When I knelt at her grave she told me her story in hushed tones, or was it the breeze in the pines on the hill overlooking the Kanawha? I bid her farewell that day, placed a pebble on her headstone, stroked the cold marble and mourned an untouched mother.
Describe this moment without use of word or sound – see where you are with eyes pressed tightly closed, hear a song with utter silence, taste the pure mountain air reach out and touch that which has no shape or form, no essence and you sit in the middle of reality.
A reflection on case 45 of Dogen’s Shobogenzo Koans (True Dharma Eye)
The morning was indistinguishable from so many others. Lorenz was taking his morning walk around the pond or lake, it was of that intermediate size that could be either or neither, when in a break with his habit, he sat down on one of the four benches, and stared out over the water. He hadn’t seen the usual egrets or herons or ibis, which did strike him as a bit odd since they were as regular in attendance as he was. As he pondered their absence he was startled by what felt like a tickling on his arm. He looked down to find a Painted Lady butterfly perched on his forearm sitting placidly. He stared at what seemed to be the eyes on its wing staring at him. Neither moved, he for fear of dislodging his visitor, the butterfly for its own, undisclosed, unfathomable reasons. This mutual staring continued until time lost its shape, its defintion, and puddled at his feet, no longer mattering at all. But evenutally a breeze came up and it lifted from his arm, flitted about as if in some farewell and was off. He had no idea that moments later the tsunami warning sirens began up and down Fukushima Prefecture in Japan.
She examines each banana looking at it from all sides, looking down its shaft as though sighting a rifle. Each banana, in turn, she gently places back on the pile. My patience grows thin, but I smile and ask her if I might approach the bin, grab a small bunch of bananas, be done with my shopping. I see five with skins are a uniform yellow, no dark spots to be seen. She frowns a bit and I say, “Did you want these?” “Oh no,” she says, “I don’t want those — like most the curvature is all wrong.”
The clouds are thick today, each merging into the next like an ill-woven blanket, stitches dropped, but still not admitting light. None assumes familiar shapes, none require more than a passing glance, though none promise much-needed rain. Today clouds simply cast a pall and we are left to bear their omnipresent reluctance to be of use.