an eccentric woman gives my sister and i
a series of questions. she says we must
lock ourselves in a a 7 inch high box the
width and length of our bodies, and
stay in until we answer the questions
after which there will be some element
of reward. i prepare nervously with
my sister, and worry that this will
take time away from important
work assignments. we take a train in
to a station where we find the boxes
as well as my parents, both of them,
there to encourage us.
there are other students of these
questions preparing themselves too -
it's a competition, and the questions
are koans, about pop musicians.
immediately i freak out
with anxiety. aware that this is a competition
and time is an element, and wanting to get
back to work, and noticing that another
student finishes within moments
i begin to cry. a teacher comes to help me
but i can't stop crying, frantically,
self-indulgently, excessively. others
are being assisted. i reject assistance.
i scream despairingly "that first student
was asian - unfair advantage!" knowing
with those words i'm swinging my angry
fists blindly in the dark.
i know the only road to an answer is
release of the body, and time in the box, and
the end of measuring that time. and i know
that i can do this, so certainly that it isn't
even a question. but these people, this
tension, this energy, this competition
it freezes me, brings me to frenzy,
bring me to self-indulgent tears.
i wake up a little, and the more i wake up,
the more i know i need to let my body
naturally follow its course of forgetting
time, and sleeping in.