- Anne Lamott, Imperfect Birds
"We're all afraid of the same stuff. Mostly we're afraid that we're secretly not okay, that we're disgusting, or frauds, or about to be diagnosed with cancer...We want to teach you how to quiet the yammer...how you can create comfort, inside and outside, how you can get warm, how you can feed yourself. And even learn to get through silence...There is a wilderness inside you, and a banquet. Both."
- Anne Lamott, Imperfect Birds
I recently wrote a book review for Tricycle: The Buddhist Review of a new book called "Stars at Dawn." The title is, well, gorgeous; picture in your mind the last few stars of nighttime lingering over the horizon in the deep blue light of early morning. The book, however, introduces forgotten tales of influential women in the Buddha's biographical account—a story that has, for millennia, mainly been about men and written from a male perspective.
I admire the approach of the author, Wendy Garling. She uses incisive analysis of sacred texts to discover lesser-known stories of influential women in the early days of Buddhism. She then integrates these tales into Buddhism's founding story, effectively rendering a more balanced and truthful account of the Buddha's life.
After I wrote the review, I was thinking about how I could do something similar on a personal level. If I were to assess my past—to delve deep into my own biographical account—surely I could remember many influential women who saved me in countless small ways. There were women who encouraged me to pursue writing, to take vacation time, to climb mountains, to save more money, to breathe more steadily, to set goals and seek out parks and really look deeply at trees and birds and waves. There were women who asked me to say what I really mean, to tell the truth with my voice, because that is the most important thing. There were women who trusted me, who asked me to trust them. There were also women who disappointed me and, in doing so, helped me learn how to embrace disappointment and realize that I could come through the other side of challenges relatively unscathed. These lessons are also influential.
I was happy to read and consider the teachings in this book. I learned so much. Enjoy the review here.
In the dream, it was nighttime, and we were walking along a wide, dirt path lined with tall oak trees. You were strolling in front of me at a slow, casual pace. I sensed that there was enough time to pause often to look up at trees, and to then turn my gaze and watch you from a still point. I knew you would wait for me.
What it felt like to be there in the dream with you: sometimes, when I’m on the subway, I glance out the window and watch another train pulling up across the platform alongside mine. We are speeding up to depart, and this other train is slowing down to arrive, but for a moment—a fraction of a second—both trains are flowing together at the same speed. There is a floating in that time, a suspension, and a realization that two entities that are moving in the same direction at separate speeds can be in the same place, even if it is just in the time it takes to exhale.
This is my train, and that is your train.
And time, like most things, is relative and pliable. Can that moment when we’re in the same place at the same speed be stretched into a lifetime?