WOMAN ON A STOOL PAINTING

The other day I walked on the road and saw a painter seated on a stool inside the woods and painting on the canvas she’d set up. I thought briefly about taking her photo—we don’t see many painters at work around here though I think ours is a beautiful area—but didn’t wish to disturb her, she was so deeply and quietly working.

But I was curious to see the scene she was so intent on capturing, so the next day I walked off the road to where she was sitting and looked around, and the above photo is what I saw. I was sure of the place where she sat, knew it was by a small culvert just before the road curved taking us to the horses.

I stood there, surprised. We have so many pretty views here, what is it that drew her to this spot? There’s the rivulet of water across the middle, and a very small glen papered with dried leaves. Still, a turn of the canvas would have captured the curved road and the bigger woods on the other side. I tried to recapture her perspective, the ground and figure, and couldn’t. And realized that once again, people have their personal views on life and landscape that are plain bewildering to me.

They have their stamp collections they’ve painstakingly accumulated over a lifetime, whereas I can hardly be bothered specifying which first-class stamp I want to buy for our regular mailings.

Recently I got two gold coins and the husband of a friend sold them for me. He sat down and told me how all his life he loved coins and learned all about them from an old coin shop owner he’d hang out with after doing his paper route as a boy. He would have happily spent days in our home talking about coins, and when he left I wondered to myself: Who would think someone who worked in the business of package delivery could have such a private, lifelong passion for coins?

Something calling you out of yourself and saying: Look here, look here! No one else responds to that particular call except for you.

If the woman is a good artist, she might convey to me and others what it was that drew her here, what it was she saw that needed painting, and a private vision becomes shared. But she may also leave it hanging privately at home, her private secret, unsure herself whether anything can truly be captured. Like many writers I know with hundreds of pages of unpublished books and stories sitting in their cabinets or computer files.

We respond to those calls, do the best we can, and leave it. When we die it’ll be recycled in no time flat, without leaving a trace–except the memory one woman has of seeing another seated on a stool and painting in the woods something only she saw, no one else.

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YOM ASAL, YOM BASAL

That’s Arabic for a day of honey, a day of onions.

It’s also the title of a short poem by Chana Bloch, as follows:

In every maybe the fear of yes.
In every promise a shattered glass.

For every portion a cutting edge.
For every rift a slippery bridge.

In every hope some pickling salt.
In every bungle a touch of guilt.

Unto every plan God’s ringing laughter.
Unto every death a morning after.

Sunday night Stanley seemed to have a seizure of some kind. He breathed fast and hard, fell smash on the floor from the sofa, and seemed to lose his vision as he catapulted this way and that, stumbling over his legs, smashing against edges of furniture and bringing things down on himself and on the floor, including the fireplace screen and heavy accessories. He barely saw me.

I finally leashed him and dragged him to the guest room up the stairs, which has the least amount of furniture. In his state I couldn’t take him to a hospital. He circled round the room again and again, still breathing fast. But after about half an hour his breathing slowed down and he tired. He lay down finally and seemed to doze off. When I got up he opened his eyes and I could see that he saw me. I left the room, he followed me to the bedroom and fell asleep where he always does.

The following morning he seemed back to his old self, just a little more tired, a little more faded. Less hungry. But still loves his walks and went on a long outing with Leeann today, grinning all the way.

I’m getting good at waking up in the morning and looking for signs of spring and renewal. This morning I took my fast walk and stopped by Gala and T to give them apples. They look up from their forage before I even round the curve, and canter to the fence. Gala goes straight for my pocket, and if there’s no apple there she’ll go for the phone. But there were apples, which made her happy. T behind her has a face covering protecting his eyes from the sun, like sunglasses.

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THE AMARYLLIS AND BOB LEE

This amaryllis has been going strong for over a month. It opens up and opens up, and then, when you think it can’t anymore, it opens up some more. Eventually it’ll curl and crumple, fold into itself before shedding petals. But before that it will open till there’s nothing hidden.

I watch it day by day and think of Bob Lee, our friend who passed away last week (see below). He started out as a family physician and became a psychiatrist, eventually heading up the psychiatric services of Kaiser Permanente, probably the nation’s pre-eminent health insurance program.

Bob was also a Zen meditator for at least half a century. Unlike other Zen practitioners/therapists who tried to combine or reconcile the two approaches in some way, Bob kept both very separate. Instead, he helped many Zen practitioners, at no cost, to mediate relationships with partners, children, teachers, and inside the sangha.

When we were developing the Greyston organizations in Yonkers, New York, he’d fly over from San Francisco to be with us. We all knew we could talk to him individually and privately. The work was grueling and the hours were long, and in those early days we still hadn’t developed approaches to help us handle conflict and complexity in community.

Funny how naïve we were then, thinking that sitting meditation in silence would solve everything. Thankfully, we’ve learned some lessons since then.

But the Zen Community of New York had Bob. He’d sit in someone’s small bedroom and people would come to him with their troubled hearts. Years later Bernie and I would go to him for couple counseling during the year we lived in La Honda.

Again, it’s funny how tough so many of us were in those days. It was as if Zen practice was the antidote to everything. After all, there seemed to be a diagnosis: You’re confused because you don’t see that there is no self. So who’s there to get hurt? Diagnosis and cure all mixed together.

Funny what big circles we could run around feelings and wounds. It’s as though we had to become Spartans all, in denial of that most basic truth of the Buddha, that suffering was part and parcel of the whole shebang. The amount of energy spent on denial in Zen centers at that time could have powered our planet because many of us were warriors, gathering up strength not to open like the amaryllis, but to build stronger, thicker armor from the mess that is life, the mess that is love.

Along came Bob, who knew so much but seemed so simple. You’d talk to him, empty your heart overladen with the debris of denial, and he’d listen, giving a brief and low hmmm every once in a while. His voice was very low-pitched so that even in the early days you had to listen hard. At this point I don’t much remember the content as much as the softness he encouraged in me, addressing hurt in a kind and gentle language that one didn’t much find in Zen centers those days. He himself didn’t do long-term therapy, he felt that a lot could be done in just a few skillful sessions, eschewing stories of the past and focusing on the moment and our reactions now.

As he got older Bob was like the amaryllis, opening up and opening up. He became transparent in those later years, deriving so much joy from the people around him. Well, hello, you rascal, he would say to me in his low, lugubrious voice.

His eyes positively sparkled when he saw Bernie. He loved Bernie, and Bernie loved him back. They were from an old era, shared recollections of old teachers and friends. They had a language together that was coherent to others but contained a depth of emotion and association that I think only they recognized.

The years passed and Bob just unveiled and unveiled. Even as his body hardened and stiffened his mind seemed to grow more boyish, experiencing surprised delight at a new sun, a new book, and new/old faces.

Finally he crumpled, as the amaryllis will shortly do.

The Buddha may not have been right about everything, but he was right about many things, including the fact that one flower could transmit the dharma for many, many generations.

Photo by Jane Winslow

 

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GROWING UP IN A ZEN HOUSE

Exhausted after translating

Sometimes people ask me what it’s like to grow up in a Zen house. Wow, you’ve been living all your life with two—not one, but two—Zen teachers, what do they talk about? What’s it like?

Let me tell you, both of them are totally insane.

There’s the guy who sits there looking out into space, saying almost nothing. Nothing perturbs him, nothing bothers him, you could tell him a war just started over in Greenfield and he’ll say Is that so?

People come by. How’re you doing? they ask.

He says: Okay.

How is it after the stroke? Okay.

How’s the winter been? Okay.

How’s Donald Trump? Okay.

Everything’s okay no matter what.

I’m not saying he doesn’t have feelings, just that you don’t hear too much about them. Doesn’t complain, doesn’t explain, likes to look across the room for a long time. I look there, too, only I don’t see anything.

Then there’s the woman, and she’s something else entirely. Jumps up from bed before the sun, fills the birdfeeders, tells me it’s freezing outside, strokes me till I tell her to stop, opens windows to air out the house (you’d think there’s no air in the house), worries about icicles around the branches, gives apples to horses and leans so close the juices go all over her jacket and pants, constantly asks the guy how he feels, what he wants to eat, how’s his nose, how are his eyes, can’t stop noticing everything.

Stops in the middle of dinner and tells us to look out the window. Do you see the sunset? she asks excitedly.

Okay, says the guy.

What do you mean, okay? says she. It’s gorgeous.

I’m color-blind, says the guy.

I’m with him on this one. Why would anybody stop eating to look at a sunset? Why would anybody stop eating?

And who’s smack in the middle between these two? Moi. And when they can’t communicate, because they can’t be more different from each other if they tried, who translates? You got it.

The woman asks the guy, What do you want me to get you from the co-op?

Nothing, he says.

She looks at me and I translate: Diet Coke and Bart’s Malted Vanilla ice cream.

Later that day:

She: Bernie, do you want a second blanket? It’s chilly in the room.

He: I’m okay.

She looks at me. He needs another blanket, I tell her.

The other way, too.

She: OMG, my eyes are finally clearing up. For a week there I could hardly see anything, and now this medication is causing everything to clear and I can see the world and I can drive and look at faces and actually see you!

He: That’s nice.

Me: He couldn’t be more thrilled.

She: Bob Lee passed away. What a wonderful soul, what a bighearted man. Remember the couple’s counseling we did with him so many years ago? Always so ready to help and be there for people.

He: Yeah.

Me: He’s overcome with grief.

Finally, when I can’t stand to translate anymore, I pretend to be deaf and go off to the sofa for my nap. I know I know, without me they won’t understand each other, he’ll stare into space, she’ll bury herself in the office. But there’s only so much I can do. Imagine, a dog my age working so hard!

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REPORTS OF MY IMMINENT DEMISE ARE GREATLY EXAGGERATED-

photo by Leeann Warner

. . . and highly premature. I’m still living and plan to be living for a while  longer.

I don’t know why Eve is such a drama queen, always expecting the worst. I once asked her and she said it’s because she’s Jewish. Let me tell you, that woman has catastrophe in her bones! She does make an effort, looks for my cheerful snoring face first thing in the morning, searches for signs of early spring, loves to open up windows and cause the rest of us to freeze to death, but actually, the woman has catastrophe in her blood cells.

And who’s the one who takes care of that? Who’s the one that gets her to look up at the sun and the sky, who takes her out on walks into the woods, who reminds her to remember the birds outside, to remember life?

Moi!

I grin, I smile, I wag my tail, I chase after squirrels. I scrounge around for sunflower seeds under the bird feeders so that she could yell at me. I dig up old bones and bring them upstairs and shake the mud loose right in front of her onto the rug so that she could get pissed–because the wise ones among us know that there’s energy in getting pissed!

Now who’s going to do that for her once I’m gone? She threatens that the minute I go she’ll bring two new dogs into the house. No mourning, not even a shiva! If she does that you’ll hear from me from beyond the grave, I promise.

Why do I wear that stupid red Eddie Bauer winter coat when we go out? For her sake. She thinks she’s doing it for me, but in fact she has no idea who the true Bodhisattva is around here. We’re always doing things for you humans, but you guys think you’re taking care of us.

I let her take me out on walks in the coldest of days—I mean like: Say what? Do you really think that at my age I need to walk in 0 degrees, even in an Eddie Bauer winter coat? She’s annoyed, says Look at all the layers I have to put on to take you out, and I grin and wag my tail when I’m really thinking: You dummy, I’m doing this for you! Or going into the woods during shooting season for God’s sake, and wearing that ridiculous orange vest that won’t deter any hunter who’s not drinking too much from taking a good shot at me!

Or letting her take me to Leeann, where she sees a dozen crazy dogs playing rough—like at my age I really need Romper Room! But do I complain? Do I report her for abuse? No, sir, I wag my tail as Leeann marches me off to the horde, and as soon as that malamute scampers over I whisper: Shove off, Daisy Lou, even as I could hear Eve behind me thinking: Isn’t that sweet!

Does she know any of this? In fact, I pretend to be deaf so as not to embarrass her, especially when she’s singing to me or talking like an idiot: Come on, you pretty dog. Oh Stanie Mannie Shmannie. Oh love love love, doggie doggie dog. Disgusting, but do I let her know I can hear every embarrassing word? I do not. She makes up the most awful songs on earth, things she’d never tell you in her blog, you don’t want to hear the tune or you’ll get sick. Maybe one day when she’s not watching I’ll put it all on YouTube, I’m sure it’ll go viral.

And then there’s the other Zen guy there who leaves half his food on his plate and sneaks it down to me. Do you think I eat it because I’m hungry? Of course not, I do it to give him pleasure. Two Zen teachers acting silly, but you see, all that singing and feeding and purring gets the love out of them. It builds up affection and enthusiasm, gets those nurturing hormones working, and I know that’s going to lengthen their days even if they don’t.

Who do I do it all for? For her! For him! For them!

You know what I bring to her life? Delight. Da-light. I bring delight to her life1

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BLACK PANTHER(S)

Like the rest of the country, I went to see the Black Panther last night, on the first weekend it opened up. I don’t particularly like superhero movies, but a friend invited me to join her and her family, and I felt pulled to be part of what seemed almost a national wave of people going to pay tribute to a film about a black superhero, directed and acted by mostly a black cast.

There I am, one white female face in a sea of white faces (our part of New England is mostly white). By now the reviews are in. It’s a terrific story, acted beautifully, and visually gorgeous. I loved the movie’s strong women, their humor, poise, and grit.

There’s the black king, born and raised in a part of Africa never colonized, permitted to evolve in its own way, holding on to its traditions and ways of life even as it soars technologically. And then there’s the usurper, the man born in a poor Oakland, California neighborhood, who comes to claim the throne.

It’s to the credit of the movie that it gives him lots of sympathy despite his bad intentions. He’s the one who most fascinated me: the man half-in, half-out, a product of American urban slums leaving the only way he knows how, by joining the military and fighting in our wars around the world, becoming a highly trained killer, and finally going to his ancestral home. But he can’t relate to their way of life either, he’s a broken man. The king sees that brokenness, even has empathy for it, but in the end he has to play his role just as the usurper plays his.

A wave of white people in the Cinemark theater in Hadley cheered for the king and his people, cheered for the movie, and hope it will start changing things in Hollywood for African-American moviemakers. Breaking box office records this weekend didn’t hurt.

For me it was a call to the imagination, even a cry to imagine something better and finer for this world, something that could have been and still could be. A call to ignore those cynically content with things as they are, and imagine a different future.

I thought of the Black Panthers in the 1960s, and finally of the Angola Three, members of the Black Panthers who were put in solitary confinement in the Angola penitentiary in Louisiana for at least 25 years, two of them for at least 40. Forty years in solitary confinement! The warden of Angola explained he did this because the three were members of the Black Panthers.

A friend once told me that he talked with Anita Roddick, the English woman who founded the Body Shop, just before she died. He asked her what he could do for her, and she begged him to continue her efforts to free the Angola Three. He agreed, and as a result of work done by him, lawyers and advocates who wouldn’t let the cases die, some years later the three were finally freed, though one died immediately after release.

I met Robert King, the first of the three to be freed, in New York City and in my friend’s house, saw his demeanor and listened to him talk. Watching the movie last night about the Black Panther, I thought of him.

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NOT THE WAY TO LEEANN

I don’t know, this isn’t the way to Leeann. Everything else feels the same. I’m sitting in the back seat of the car and it’s morning, but this doesn’t feel right. So either you forgot how to go to Leeann or you’re going the very long way.

Actually, you’re right, Stan. We’re not going to Leeann, we’re going to Dr. Brown.

Oh no! The House of Horrors!

Look Stanley, you have allergies in the winter, you’re scratching hard, you’re not sleeping!

So?

I want you to get a good night’s sleep, Stanley, not walk around the house like a zombie all night scratching.

You mean you want to get a good night’s sleep. I’ll live with being a zombie.

And your back legs are getting weaker.

They’re my back legs.

You’re eating less, Stanley. You always had such a good appetite, and now I have to cajole you into eating breakfast.

So I’ll lose some weight. Could we turn around now and go home?

Come on, Stan, you think it’s easy for me to take you to the House of—Dr. Brown? As soon as she enters the exam room you turn to the corner, showing her your butt. She calls your name, Stanley! Stanley!, and you don’t even turn around. How do you think that makes me feel?

You know, there’s something you should know that you don’t want to know.

What’s that, Stanley?

I’m old! I’m slow! I do my best to catch up with the rest of Leeann’s gang, but it’s getting harder and harder because I’m old and sometimes I hurt. I’m aging, I’m falling apart. So what?

What do you mean, so what? It’s tough seeing you in pain, it’s tough seeing you limp sometimes or else walk around during the night not sleeping. It’s tough seeing you lose your appetite.

I’m going.

Going where?

You know where. It’s slow going, but I’m still going. So what? Do you see me getting upset?

You know, Stanley, instead of taking you to Dr. Brown so early in the morning I could have gone to my yoga class!

Next time do the yoga class! And start letting me go.

Go where?

You know where. It’s time.

Now?

Not now. Soon.

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REVELATION EVERYWHERE, NO SECRET

Back in Santa Barbara, a friend of mind talked about what had happened in Hawaii a month earlier, when an alarm went everywhere about incoming missile attacks. For 38 minutes Hawaiians thought they had only a small pocket of time to prepare for death coming in the form of nuclear weapons delivered by missiles. Afterwards, when the cause seemed to be a combination of human error and technological glitch, the media and government lambasted the event, i.e., who was the moron who did that, who designed such dumb systems, that’s the problem with idiot technology, etc.

Actually, said my friend, they missed the point. Nuclear war is unimaginable, so the rest of us go about our lives happy not to imagine it. It’s not that we don’t know what would be the results for ourselves, our families, communities, and country, we just prefer not to think about it. Our government, which likes to talk about a nuclear option with limited liability, is happy to leave us in our ignorance and delusion.

Then an error occurs, a message goes out, and people start coming to grips with what a nuclear missile attack would mean. Best thing that could have happened, said my friend.

In Zen we say that everything is right here—God, the absolute, Nirvana, essence, Being, the deepest meaning of life—and we’d see it if only we could get out of our heads. But getting out of our heads is not so simple given that, at least in the case of humans, our heads are attached to the rest of our bodies.

From my earliest years of practice I’d hear Bernie say that there are no secrets. How could there be, he’d say, if we’re all really One, if it’s all one great functioning. Trying to figure this out in my early days, I’d envisage some massive piece of machinery stretching throughout space and time, where one infinitesimal cog keeps a secret about another infinitesimal cog from the rest of the machine. But that would cause things to malfunction, I thought, and already I knew there was no such thing as malfunction in the One Body, so the metaphor would collapse in my head.

A few days ago I blogged about my childhood when I’d been beaten by my father even as in the outside world he was a highly respected and deeply loved educator. I wrote about what it is to be the holder of the secret, because make no mistake, it’s not the perpetrator who holds the secret, it’s the person who is hurt.

What makes it so hard to reveal the secret to others? Why is it, as comes up again and again, that women wait so long before they come forward to talk about these things?

When you’re a holder of a secret you have one foot in one world and the second foot in another. You stand and live in a world that, for good and valid reasons, respects a particular person for skills, talent, personality, and accomplishment. But you also stand in another, more private world, shared only by you and him, behind closed doors and windows, where abuse, cruelty, and helplessness reign.

It’s hard enough to make sense of it as an adult, never mind a child. It plunges you into enormous confusion, you develop doubts about the authenticity of your personal experience, and often the safest thing to do is fold it inside yourself and keep it secret, even pretend nothing happened.

When you hold that secret you are frightened by the power you think you have, because with just a few words you could bring that external world of good times, faith, trust, love and friendship crashing on everybody’s heads. Ain’t no one going to give you much credit for that, believe me. Whoever it is—Rob Porter, Bill Cosby, Bill Clinton, one’s parents—the world wants to keep its delusions intact. In fact, we fight for our delusions as hard as we can.

Bernie says the world knows. People around me may not have known, but the windows I loved to keep open and now were shut down knew. The bed that held me knew, as did the pillow beneath my head. Perhaps a doll knew, or a stuffed animal, and later on a desk promising to be there years later for the notebook or computer absorbing a much older woman’s memories and impressions. There was clearly a witnessing; no one said it had to be human.

Integrity—which could be another word for wholeness—and brokenness are two sides of the same coin. In a way, the more we break, the more integrity we uncover.

You don’t want to believe that people with greater power can hurt people with far less? What world do you live in?

Human error and technological glitch may have caused the alert of incoming missiles in Hawaii, but I call it Bodhisattva action, one of Kwan Yin’s many hands acting with full compassion. We label it idiocy or madness, a bizarre joke, but She’s just pointing to what is.

I’m still with Bernie. There’s revelation everywhere, no secrets at all.

So what do you see?

 

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PATRIARCHY IN THE AGE OF LEEANN

Life is a mess, Stanley.

You’re telling me!

Just look at all this stuff that’s fallen in the winter. We used to go up this path and now look at it, blocked and jagged and no good.

We could try to get through sideways. I’d make it, but not sure about you. You’re gaining weight! You’re getting bigger

You want to get somewhere, cross the road, but things fell in the way, things got hurt, they died, they didn’t work out, and they leave a mess right in the way so you can never go straight.

Love is a mess, too.

What do you know about love, Stanley?

What don’t I know? I love Minnie. Take a look at the way that beagle looks at me. She adores me.

How long has this been going on, Stan?

Three months. But lately she’s changing. She doesn’t come so close anymore, she doesn’t nuzzle me, doesn’t follow me on the road. Before, even when she drifted away she always knew where I was. Now she goes sniffing elsewhere.

So do you love her because she’s Minnie, or do you love her because she adores you?

I love her because she adores me. Why would you love anybody otherwise?

I didn’t realize patriarchy was so alive and well on your outings with Leeann.

Look at you. You adore me. You feed me. You walk me. You take me to Leeann. You brush me. So I love you back. Nothing messy about that.

That’s very heartening, Stan.

But is that good enough for Minnie? No, sir. Now she wants to talk to me about her problems back home, as if I care. As if I have to worry about how she’s left alone on Saturdays or that she’s not allowed to jump on the sofa. She’s become a feminist, I tell you!

Is that bad, Stan?

It’s messy. When it gets like that, I’m out of here.

Anybody else out there ready to fall in love with you, Stanley?

Only you. But don’t get too pushy and demanding on me! I need someone simple: cook and walk. Anything else gets too complicated. We’re an item as long as you do that.

What about Minnie?

I’ve forgotten her already.

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A SECRET LIFE

Sunset in Santa Barbara

I’ve been thinking a lot about the episodes to do with Rob Porter and David Sorensen, two White House aides who left because their ex-wives said they were abusive. Not just about them, but about people generally who are successful, powerful, and highly regarded at work, and exhibit an entirely different aspect of their personalities at home.

My father used to beat me very badly when I was a child. I’m not talking spanking here, some East European shtetl sense of how to raise children, or even a spare the rod, spoil the child approach. I’m talking about a man with accumulated anxiety and stress from work and marriage who came home and released it by beating a little girl. A man who, if he felt thwarted in plans to go out for an evening, if he had an argument with his wife or didn’t like the food served at dinner, would come into my room, shut the door quietly, go from window to window, shut each slowly and methodically, then close the blinds, and proceed to beat me.

I learned from a young age that these outbursts were rarely triggered by things I said or did. Not that I didn’t have an attitude, I did, but there was no proportion between what I said and what ensued. I knew what it felt like to be the scapegoat for someone’s frustrations many years before I heard the word scapegoat. I knew how it felt to be one’s punching bag, literally, and the marriage of helplessness and hopelessness that ruled the fabric of my life in those days.

From a very early age I learned to fear the sound of the front door opening and closing in the early evening, and to watch and listen for his moods and the dynamics at home as if my life depended on it.

And here’s the thing. My father was highly thought of in the community. He didn’t work in the White House, he was a beloved high school teacher and principal. His students used to visit our house again and again to talk things over with him, and they’d stop me on the streets to tell me how they wished they could talk to their fathers as they did to mine, how they wished they had a father like mine.

When I was in my 30s he wrote me letters to tell me how sorry he was for the violence of my childhood and youth. He described his own early life, which smacked of the same things. I forgave him with all my heart, but that didn’t undo the damage.

When he died shortly after the age of 90, hundreds of people came to the shiva to tell my siblings and myself what a great father we had. A few were the very ones who loved him back in those early brutal years, to whom he was a surrogate father.

I remember sitting in the house and listening to them, filled with a deep feeling of I know a secret about this man that you don’t.

That’s the thing, you see, the secret. In a way he led a secret life. We’re not talking about No man is a hero to his valet; people closest to you will always know things about you that others don’t. What I’m talking about are brutal attacks and violence on a helpless child, that’s the secret.

And that happens when we believe in secrets, when we believe in segmenting and compartmentalizing. That’s when you can be beloved in the office, in art, in literature, in films, and a monster at home. Because we live in a society of secrets.

There’s nothing I advocate here. What to do when these situations come to light is a challenge for all of us. I don’t think the cure is to fire folks from their jobs, destroy their careers, break all relations. If we’re serious about healing people and society we can’t depend on social media but patiently, painstakingly (which means taking up the pain), work skillfully from bottom up, give names to the unspeakable and a voice to the mute, and never exclude anyone from the country called compassion.

Over many years Bernie has often said that there are no secrets. If we’re all one, then we know—maybe not the details, maybe not everything—but something. Is that true? I’m no longer so sure. I feel I know just one thing. Basically we’re broken, and each fragment is whole.

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