Thursday, November 29, 2012
As the falling leaves remind us all what time of year it is--my favorite time of year, by the way, is Autumn-- I'm often prone to bouts of almost inexplicable sadness. The Buddhists have a saying about leaves falling and the loss of a child--that it is the same; that all loss is simply loss, which implies that it is somehow "equal". That, coupled with the Buddhist notion that Desire leads to Pain are just two reasons why I will probably be unable to call myself "Buddhist",though I certainly can adopt many other precepts which make sense to me: respecting all of the natural world, maintaining a connection through nature, even the absence of G-d. While I'd never use the word A-theist (denies or refutes, absolutely, the existence of G-d) to describe the very spiritual practice of Buddhism, it does appear to be Non-Theist (not attached to a particular theory of G-d), or at least, non-dogmatic. In these times of falling leaves, with the yellow and orange, falling, and red--like the children's blood being transfused, daily, in places like Egleston Children's Healthcare of Atlanta, and St. Jude's Hospital in Tennessee--the last to fall, (I am acutely aware because of the Holidays, and fundraisers for the aforementioned, and very, very valuable medical centers)I am reminded of this saying of the Buddhists, almost daily.... At the checkout in line at Barnes & Noble, North Point, to grab a book or two before heading off to see (amazing, suspenseful, going-to-get-for-sure-an-Oscar-nod) "Argo", the sales associate asked me if we'd like to "Donate a new book to a terminally ill child, this Holiday..." I gulped, suddenly feeling quite greedy for purchasing not only a gift for friend, but for snatching up the paperback of "Unsaid" the novel about a redemptive dog, just for me, just because I wanted it. I glanced at Hansoo, who appeared as shaken as I was, both of us likely imagining children on the brink of death, tubes in their noses, reading a few words, between labored breaths. I quickly asked the questioner, "Could we get one for a boy? I mean, everyone gives girls, books. Do you have one that both could enjoy, or something specifically for a boy?" "How about this "ninja" book", she asked, holding aloft a manga-style book, with bright colors on it... "Perfect," I replied, adding "Look, Hansoo, it's Asian-centric." She popped my purchases into a bag, and gently laid the book-for-unknown-terminally-ill-boy, in a nearby stack. As we hurried to leave, I asked "Is it possible to donate gently-used books, or, um...?" I knew the answer, as soon as the words flew, blind, out of my mouth. "Well, they're in the terminally ill, critical-care.." I interrupted her with "Oh, of course, the germs.." "Yes, the kids sneeze on a book, you know, it could expose them to..." "Of course..." We walked away, heads down, to the great film we were about to see. The film where lives are saved, and there is hope at the end. Exiting the AMC Theatre,I noticed a maple, shuddering in the strong winds that Sunday afternoon. She lost several bright red leaves. And, I'm guessing, if trees can, she wept. Peace, kids.