Monday, August 19, 2013

Intentional Letting Go

Happy go lucky is what many people think is letting go. I've been thinking about another letting go, more like intentional letting go. It is almost a contradiction in terms. I think about this when I prepare to be the doan in the Zendo.  I ring bells to indicate the beginning and end of sitting, and at different points during the service. But before that, I need to get from the front door of the temple to the shoe rack. In other words, I need to walk. Yikes, a challenge! Lifting up one's foot for the first step isn't so hard, at least compared with setting one’s foot down.

Or is it? Actually there is the physical act of lifting one foot up at a time, and then there is the intention. What will I think about as I walk to the shoe rack? Will it be about the tires on my car that need replacing or about the man who promised to send me a report today but didn't? Wait, where am I? “Calling Kim, calling Kim.”

The photographer Minor White spoke of photographers who go on vacation and forgot to take themselves with them. Is this much different than anyone going anywhere and leaving part of herself behind? If I really want to go somewhere wouldn't it be good to take myself along?

I decide to step over the threshold and leave my old tires and the unsent report outside. But wait, isn't this supposed to be about letting go. I did let go of the tires and the unsent report, but what about intentionally lifting up my foot. I could easily become a very affected with a self-conscious gait. So the challenge is to lift my foot up as if that's all I've ever done in my life. “Now my foot leaves the sacred floor and moves like a bird into the sky.” The separation of the foot from the ground will be silent, as in Japanese tea ceremony when a tea bowl is carefully lifted from the mat, without a sound, to be shared with a guest. It is a dance, of sorts. It is the moment, just after touching something, when the moving away is as gentle as the touch itself.

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