Here I was feeling all warm and fuzzy about my blog and then I saw a description of it as “sentimental prose.” It was a nice description which included that the blog is “inspiring” too. (Thank you, Top 50 Buddhist Blogs.) Of course, being the sensitive, insecure type, I immediately sought reassurance: Do they mean “sentimental” as in Emily Dickinson? Or do you suppose they meant “sentimental” as in Jonathon Livingston Seagull? Because, you know, Emily I can handle… but seagull sentimental… ewww…
This debate is quite timely though. I’m trying to embody the realization step of the Third Noble Truth: open-handed awareness of non-duality in my life. “Suffering and happiness are not two,” says Thich Nhat Hanh. Sentimental, heartfelt, expressive, weakly emotional, mawkish… Emily and Jonathon are not two, I say to myself.
I chuckle too because can’t think of anyone in my life who would see me as sentimental (in the weakly emotional sense). Definitely not the Kid who exclaimed one day as I tried to help in a mother-ish, subversively-shrink-ish sort of way: How do people find her SOOTHING!? Definitely not my friends – what straggly few I have – who once looked at a certain character on a TV show and exclaimed: Hey, That’s Lynette! Definitely not the insurance companies I fight with despite trying to project my intention to advocate for my patients. Oh, and then there was this one fellow who was obstructing the ambulance at a crash scene and refused to move because I was a woman ordering him around. I think he growled something about “Mother…ing” to which I replied, “In this parking lot I’m the only Mamma you got so don’t make me do something I won’t regret.”
And yet, and yet… I was thinking about many things about this blog. The language notwithstanding, there is the issue of transparency about who I am. Barry wrote a post a few days ago about hiding behind a pseudonym and the problem of such anonymity. That struck a chord, leaving me wondering about my use of “Genju” and my reluctance to full disclose aspects of my life. In part, I’m trying to honour my family’s privacy; however, I note I have put Frank “out there.” I also rationalize that if you really want to find out more, you’d Google for it. There are certainly enough traces of identity in the blogs. The other part of “Genju” is my commitment to embodying the dharma name given to me. And the final point (if anything is final) is that this is a personal space where I get to be a “me” that is different from the hour-by-hour piecework shrinkology I am/do/be everyday. But yes, I have been thinking about introducing the other parts of me into this process.
I’ve been thinking about the sentiment (argh!) too. The intent and tone of the writing is something I try to set with each post – expressive but hopefully not mawkish like some sooty, snooty Victorian. I certainly feel I’m a poor student copyist of my heroes in Literary Prose and Poetry. But a congealing of the rhythms and cadence of so many influences is hard to avoid. It’s like my “accent.” Drives people crazy trying to figure out where I’m from. Boston? Egypt? (Huh?) Bermuda? My only response is “TV.” It’s true. Like all refugee kids, I spent my language formative years in front of the Tube, which in my day was an unending transmission of Americana. So I sound like an amalgam of leftover Brit, a Mouseketeer, and Sgt. Saunders from Combat! It’s scary when I express sentiments of anger. That being said, I hope this blog expresses an approximation to a mid-range exploration of the Dharma – albeit through my stumbling gait and, to be honest, being non-controversial. That’s not to say I don’t have strong opinions about things. I just don’t care to explore them in this venue – much. That will change in time and I’m in no rush.
So there you have it: the third turning of the Third Noble Truth. It is the insight that all things can exist simultaneously and without conflict. It is also realizing – or making real – the variations on a theme of our experiences. At this moment, it is the twinge about being perceived as writing sentimental prose and it is the contentment in my attempts to convey my feelings as I practice.
Thank you for practising.
Sentimentally & prosaically yours, I remain