By the time I went out looking for a new teacher I no longer had any idea what I was doing. It was the dead of winter, my mind wasn’t functioning properly; I was a wreck. I didn’t remember what I wanted to study; I didn’t remember why I wanted to study at all. There no longer seemed to be any point. The one who couldn’t teach me anymore had said: You can always divorce your spouse, but your true teacher will be with you for the rest of your life. I was concerned. I flew back and forth. I muddled through various interviews with various teachers, some of whom were very famous, some of whom were very wise, some of whom were neither. Things were said, I was sometimes impressed, sometimes intimidated, sometimes bewildered. But in the end, after everything had gotten mixed up, the one thing that stood out to me, in my confusion and terror, was that one of them, and only one, had said to me, very simply: If you come here, I will take good care of you. In the end, that one line was the deciding factor. He had said the thing I most needed to hear at the time I most needed to hear it, and he probably did not even realize this. But in retrospect I realize that I made the right choice, even though I did not know at the time all the reasons why it was the right choice. Perhaps, actually, because I didn’t know. If I had been less confused, more rational, more confident, more optimistic, if I had tried to weigh all the factors and come to the logical conclusion, I probably would have miscalculated and made a serious mistake.
Affliction can be a blessing. The older I get, the more I see that, more often than not, it is.
* * *
I dreamt my teacher and I were out of the beach, running around in the sand, trying to collect data about the waves. The waves always receded before we got all the information we needed. The task was clearly impossible. We could never fully understand the ocean this way. There was so much time pressure, on every cycle of flow and ebb, and yet we weren’t panicked. What mattered was not that we solve the problem. What mattered was that we were out there, looking, making the necessary observations, together. And it made me so happy to know, that of all the people in the universe, we were the ones out there. I was shocked by this, actually, that we were out there alone, and amazed that he was willing to take on the whole ocean with only me.