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Lions Roar : March 2015
THIRTY-FOUR YEARS ago, when I was ten, I stood in a wooded field, far from a crowd of children and adults who had come to celebrate a birthday, and made two vows: I would have a daughter, at least one, and I would never get married. I imagined this daughter would be dark and skinny and serious. Together we would travel around the world by train. In the evenings, we would retreat to our little rented room and read books late THIS DHARMA LIFE Committing to Impermanence It may not be forever, but for right now RACHEL NEUMANN and her partner of 20 years celebrate their love. into the night. There was never a partner or a second parent in this vision; any extra grownup would just get in the way. In my childhood, impermanence was an obvious truth. The scabs on my knees disappeared and made room for new scabs. Adults came and went. We moved here and then there. So-and-so was my best friend and then she was someone else’s. Marriage, from the little I’d seen, seemed a strange and false ritual: a public display of certainty about something that was by its nature private and transitory. Fourteen years after making this vow, I met a man on a bus. We began hanging out, but I was very clear: I wanted to be together for as long as we had fun, but not a day longer. He nodded, easy, and said he felt the same. Together, we moved from Seattle to New York and then to Oakland. Along the way we had two daughters, both rounder and lighter than I’d imagined, but good travel companions nonetheless. The man from the bus and I did not plan a life together, but over two decades a life formed around us: a community, a daily rhythm, a home, and an understanding. Then, this past spring, pulled by a growing awareness of the limits of time, PHOTOSBYSARAHPEET The bride and groom set the rules for the cermony: No using the words “husband” or “wife,” no pretending the world isn’t full of dirt, and no promises—period. Rachel Neumann is the publisher of Parallax Press and the author of Not Quite Nirvana: A Skeptic’s Journey to Mindfulness. SHAMBHALA SUN MARCH 2015 27 CULTURE • LIFE • PRACTICE