Some months prior to the ten-year memorial, my father’s dharma heir (spiritual successor) encouraged me to write a contribution to a collection of essays about my father that they were planning to make into a book. Reluctantly I told him I would, but I knew that writing it would be no easy task. I was right.
Despite its brevity – maybe a couple of typed pages – it took what seemed like days to put it together. The difficulty wasn’t so much that it was gut-wrenching (I don’t do personal, and I don’t do gut-wrenching), but because finding the right things to say proved to be immensely challenging. However, through a sheer act of will, I managed to gather some thoughts that I felt were honoring and honest and clicked ‘send.’
“Sons have always a rebellious wish to be disillusioned by that which charmed their fathers.”
Like many young men who find themselves struggling to come into their own, I can remember making a commitment early in life to be nothing like my father. The list of things I intended to reject was a long one. I wanted none of his flaws, his temperament, his beliefs, his failures, his demons. So with reckless abandon, I attempted to purge all that was “Kobun” inside of me.
Yet, the passing years have confronted me with the truth that most adult children are forced to come to terms with eventually.
We are our parents.
And with the same inevitability as the downhill flow of water, it seems that each year takes me one step closer to resembling him, and not just in the face. In fact, the likeness may be least of all in physical appearance. Rather, it has been those characteristics that lie beneath the skin, and yet are so unmistakably recognizable, in which the similarity between father and son is most pronounced.
The more vivid memories of life with my father come from my adolescence during which time he was living in Taos. Every year, I would spend a number of weeks with him filled with leisurely days generally unstrained by his need to fulfill public expectations. Reflecting on these visits has been like looking into a window of a past life and having the chance to see him for the man he was outside of the public eye.
Ok, I think that’s enough “personal” for one day. Check back in a day or so for Part 2.