Smoking in the girls’ room, sneaking a drink, napping
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The sky and trees, reflected once in the creek, are reflected again in my thoughts. These are not the black trees written on a light gray sky that small black words bring to mind. But, green and living, they stretch to grasp the sun, lobsterlike in living claws.
To begin with, I don’t believe in alternate life styles. Having lived communally, having been married, having lived alone, it all comes down to the same thing: you live, ultimately, with yourself. If you’re not your own best friend, no one else can be. You can fuck a stranger and call it love. You can build walls around you and call it community.
One day in 1971 my Guru asked me what I did about the letters I received. I replied that I answered them. Two letters had been brought to him that day. One letter he put on top of his head and the other he held between his hands for a moment. Then he tore up both of them and threw them on the ground. Forthwith, a cow who had wandered into the temple compound chomped them up. This teaching confused me.
Her hands are graceful, forceful, certain. They move through the air like swift, impassioned birds, emphasizing her words, as she explains about medicines of flowers and fruits for craziness, diagnosing pregnancy by feeling the pulse in the ring finger, the difficulty of curing heart disease when there are evil spirits, the importance of the doctor’s own dreams before the patient arrives, and, with the same matter-of-factness, about cancer. She is sitting cross-legged on the pillow, her eyes dark and active, her voice calm: why tumors grow; karma; the presence of evil spirits.
I came to Tree House because I was under so much pressure at home I was about to have a breakdown. My family had broken up and I was living with my mother and my brother. My father had found another woman and had a child by her before he was divorced from my mother and married to the other woman. He took his time and waited until the little girl was nine, living at their house, sleeping at ours.
I read, in the newspaper, about a man who is dragged from his car, knifed repeatedly for the few dollars in his wallet, and left bleeding in the gutter. My mother says her friends don’t go out at night. It’s an old story, old as the city’s tired and dour expression, old as the dry and wrinkled hands of a man trying to remember better days and remembering nothing but bone.