Posted by: cctracker | August 31, 2012

Of Photographs, Memories and the Buddha

If you are a collector of books–or of anything that reassures you of who you are and what life is about–read this essay by James Santel in the Paris Review. It’s a stabbingly beautiful meditation on how the things we gather conspire to help us build a rich and tangible self. And how we have to begin letting them go if we want to respond to the deeper truths the soul must feed on to remain vital and generous.

I moved my office recently, downsized a bit. Reading Santel’s essay I looked up at one point searching for a mahogany “Fat Merchant Buddha” my uncle Jack gave my grandmother after a military tour in Thailand. It came to me after she died. Somehow it has always magically taken me to her house as it was 50 years ago in U. City. I see her as she cooks and cleans, realizing her time as a mother who physically cares for her children is over. I’ve picked up that figurine and rubbed its belly hundreds of times thinking of her in those years, dusting and cooking just for two at last.

That’s about where I am as a father at this point. I’d like to have that Buddha to make our connection real again across the years, now that I am catching up to her. I thought it had made the cut of objects I had to shed to move into this office. I’ve looked everywhere. It’s gone.


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