dimanche, novembre 13, 2005

Japan- the willow tree, her branches blowing in the wind and reaching heavenward and then back down to her toes

I forgot until this past shabbat about the time I lived in Yokohama, Japan and the time I spent in Kamakura. There are beautiful buddhist shrines at Kamakura, which no good self-respecting religious Jew would probably admit to having been inside of, but ... well, I have been there and I remember speaking with the monks, becuase I wanted to learn more. I learned about how Buddhism is really no avoda zara, which gave me a great deal of inner rejoicing. It made me happy too when a great Rav acknowledged that he too did believed that the buddhists were not avodat kokhvim. I remember also being dressed in a kimono, with a tight, but gorgeous obi, around my waist and with the tiny wooden slippers/shoes on my feet dancing a special dance with fans and table utensils, learning how to maniuplate cups, saucers, and platters in my hands as I twisted and turned them in and out around my body to music. Recalling the offset of the collar around my neck, and the rice flour on my neck and face, I remember the beauty of the cloth and the tremendous feeling of the traditions and the power of that time and existence. I remembered performing the tea ceremony, pouring the green powder, the beaten fiber whisk, the dark wooden bowls, and the burning hot earthy-dark water pot/kettle. The rituals which bind us and both take and give power. Deep down inside I am still oddly connected to those things. It strikes a vibrant chord within me to see the traditions... to remember how I was a part of those traditions...and as I look around to the Jews around me, I wonder to myself if any of them can ever know me really. I wonder when I'm around the non-Jews, too, if they can ever know me really also. Internally, I shudder and simply accept how alone an individual's experience is.

It is difficult to explain to people how strongly my existence is tied up into that which is Chinese, Taiwanese specifically, Japanese from the occupation of Taiwan, that which is Jewish, that which is American, and that which is French. I became split yet again when I acquired a tie to Israel. I feel almost as if I could sympathize with Voldemort, with one's soul being split up by the horcruxes, except mine is not maliciously meant, nor evil in essence. That it holds one in some kind of limbo of existence is too true though. I understand alone very well as Banana Yoshimoto wrote in her book _Kitchen_ (which I highly recommend as an excellent work of fiction). It pains me to think that I know no single person who could possibly understand me in this deep complexity of all the different facets of my identity... but that people say they know me and they don't even know the half of it.

Our traditions, my traditions, your traditions, mingling traditions... my father was right to quote to me a Confucian teaching that the leaves fall back to the roots.