Yes, today may be Saturday, November 15, 2008, the 18th day of the 9th Pig moon, but those are only conditions, not reality, neither relative nor ultimate, but only conditions. The conditions are not the moment’s identity any more than this “I” is the moment’s identity . . . the moment is gone. The moment of 12:58pm is gone. Did it exist? Time is now 1:08 pm. There is a mickey who feels depressed and confused here at this glass table facing west, the directional condition of Death, a cultural condition at that. Wet, gray skies are cut into framed pieces by three tall bay windows. This mickey wrote in this very space in October and November of 1978 . . . 30 years ago when she thought she owned a wholly different array of things, car, clothes, youth . . . that now have been traded in for a comfy bed, an altar with a Tara statue, a laptop computer. She’s spent 30 years bartering and trading in the flea market of life. And every time the cell phone rings, with its caller ID, she thinks for a moment who she should be for that person; did she do as she should have since their last call, thus fulfilling their expectations of her identity? She doesn’t want to disappoint anyone, so here, at 56 years old in this particular lifetime, she dances to anyone’s bullets at her feet.
She dreams night after night,year after year of losing her wallet, losing her driver’s license, losing her passport, losing her handbag, losing control . . . not being able to carry her important possessions by herself, how they keep dribbling away when she reaches for them, how the wind blasts a newly-raked pile of leaves. The waste of it all! And the great anxiety around those she most disappoints, to whose standards she has yet to live up to: her mother, her monk Teachers, her father, her friends, her son . . . the list is endless. And the expectations she perceives that they have of her makes her want to run away, or, swallow pills to help her fake it if there’s no way out. Of course she wants out. The horror of Jonathan’s suicide by pills come too close. She could not do this to herself . . . never to her son . . . because she understood its utter futility as a solution to such pain, but she understands the condition of his mind at that time and the desperate hope that life was linear, with a beginning point and an end point to suffering. Misinformation! He went to the miserable realms yet again because of misinformation!
And her? How does this life operate on misinformation? She thinks she should be a good daughter, a good Buddhist, a good nun, a good writer, a good mother, a good Teacher, a good Dharma practitioner, a good student, a good Tarot reader, a good scholar, a good publicist, a good editor, a good dancer, with a good body, a good-looking person. All she wants to do is fly away from under the weight of these self-imposed identities. She grasps at each one of her, desperately trying to prove to herself and the other that she is the best volunteer, the hardest, most selfless worker. What a joke! What an oxymoron! The ego working overtime to be selfless!
She has no idea who “I” am other than what others expect of her. But isn’t that the point? She is not an “I”. When you point your finger at her to touch her, it is like touching air because she is none of those things, yet all of those things manifest out of this nothingness, this emptiness.
And here comes Mom up the steps to deliver what she bought for her at Trader Joe’s. Is she looking daughterly enough? Intelligent, diligent enough because she’s writing here, looking like the scene from a movie of the impassioned writer whose floor is covered with balled-up pieces of paper, evidence of the frustrated beginnings over and over? Yet she only has wadded tissue that missed the basket as she continuously blows her nose in the gray wet cold of a Cincinnati November day.
And all “I” meant to write was: The only identity, is if there is one at all, is the path, the actual process of the journey. The path is big, huge and replete with a clutter of conditions, themselves created by an infinitude of decisions made by free will. Will the real mickey please stand up? We all stand up. We all stay seated.