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Lions Roar : May 2010
strength and courage flood my cells. I repeat my mantra: “I am calm, I am poised... at the center of life’s storms, I stand serene.” It’s taken me forty-four years to get here. I’ve searched half the world for this feeling. and I know, of course, that it is fleeting. I don’t have a Zen master, a guru, or even, really, a religion. But neither did tu fu, Basho, miyamoto musashi, and count- less other poets and wanderers who made their way through hills and valleys, over mountains and rivers, to seek solace. they didn’t have to sit in a meditation hall and stare at a wall to look inside. they just looked around and paid attention to what was near them. their teachers were the mountains, riv- ers, rocks, and trees. their parents were mother Earth, father sky. then they woke up. or should I say, were awakened. I’m waiting for my epiphany. I’ve found ten thousand other ways to be a mother, but I’m still waiting for a child. Elegy I HavE a frIEnd who took his three-year-old boy up to the mountains in the Japanese countryside. the boy ran ahead excitedly, as little boys will do. there was a wooden foot- bridge. It hung over a steep ravine, a hundred feet deep. the boy ran ahead onto the footbridge. the footbridge was made of planks of old wood. not many people walked in the moun- tains anymore. there were gaps in the planks. Big gaps. the father watched. Every year on the date the boy died, my friend posts a me- morial picture of his son on his blog. the boy playing a drum set. standing in front of a samurai helmet. smiling for the camera. making the peace sign with both hands. no words, no commentary. only his son’s picture and the word “elegy.” to remember. to honor. life is not safe. I know that. nothing is certain. things we hope for, dream about, come or don’t come, and then are gone. I meet with my friend often. In our own ways we both mourn the children we do not have. somehow we have been drawn together in this strange world to mirror each other’s pain. to give each other comfort and hope. We will move on, our mutual presence seems to say. We give each other that. Heartlines my HusBand Is chonan. In Japan, this is a serious business. Chonan means the oldest son and heir to the family name and whatever fortune the family has acquired. While we’d been “away” in the paradise of northern california for ten years, his younger sister had been doing the dad’s cooking and laundry. But his sister, now in her thirties, wanted to start her own life—open her own business, move on. We couldn’t ask her to take care of the dad forever. It was shogo’s turn—our turn. I hadn’t wanted to go back to tokyo, the busy life, the pol- lution, the stress. But I loved my husband, and wanted to be with him. and I knew that a good marriage was based on compromise, even sacrifice. after all, the root of the word sacrifice is sacred. In the highest sense, to sacrifice is to do something completely for someone else, with no personal gain. as an independent american woman, that took some getting used to. and it was time to start a family. I’d gone about trying to have a child the way I’d gone about everything else in my life: one part perseverance, one part “trusting the process.” and I thought, as many do, that “if it’s meant to be, it will be.” I had a full, fantastic life and no regrets. But after eight years, I did something I’d never done before in quite the same way. I got down on my knees and prayed. and then my beloved aunt got cancer. Her one regret was that she did not have children. she worked all her life in child protective services, and had wanted to adopt. she urges me forward with a force and conviction that only impending death can render. I learn of an australian psychologist who adopted an infant in Japan. she gives me the name of the government agency— Jido sodan Jo. the application asks questions like: Why do you want a child? What kind of upbringing and education would you give it? What are the most important values you would share with a child? What about religion? filling out the application is challenging, but it is an opportunity for shogo and me to become very clear on what our values are. so we send in our application and wait. He is the opposite of other kids, who have to learn how to share. Because he grew up in an orphanage where everything is communal, he has no concept of personal ownership. 68 SHAMBHALA SUN MAY 2010