When my son was little I got a copy of Deborah Chandra’s little book about animals at a Serengeti watering hole. Each page describes the shadow and attributes of an animal and ends with the question, who comes? A tail swishes, some hoof marks show up in the mud, a few clues. And then on the next page we can see gazelle, giraffe or elephant. I think I loved that book more than he did. Who comes to the watering hole at night? We all go down to the watering hole when it is safe for us to bend down and graze the murky surface with our velvety muzzles. We sip at night from the source of our own selves. Wild dreams of falling ladders and fuzzy monkeys and long lost loves drag us down deeper and deeper. We awaken to nothing, nowhere to go, no plans, simply the body’s gentle push: drink, pee.
We are home now, alone or in pods, as my friend called them, and I want a version of this book to give me the hints. Who is visiting you? Who is coming if one doesn’t have an HSP*? Who comes? Is future me already on her way to the watering hole? Who are we really? I recently learned that sattvic comes from the verbal root sat, to be. Hence being peaceful, at ease, sattvic is being in one’s own true nature being oneself. This last week I encountered so many messages about the self and identity. One of my sattvic septum sisters recommended a book about how we may get aroused by our supposed worst flaws. We are so kinky that we keep putting ourselves in misery because we kind of like that yummy terribleness. Who comes? Your own personal dominatrix of shame. Enjoy the lashes, you bad person.
And then in the same few days my cousin sent me a long article about Freud and Hamlet from the London Review of Books whose argument was that we use shame and bad feelings to hide from knowing ourselves. Some of our value systems may well be protective walls. Who comes? Oh, please tell me you remember the first words of Hamlet the play. That is the real question. Not being or un being but who, who is there? A play whose very first question, asked in the night, in the dark, on the haunted and frigid ramparts, who is there? Who comes?
Who comes on my yoga mat, head down, timer on, all the voices of all my teachers swooping in to visit like hummingbirds drawing the sutra threads through the window and caressing me with memories of sangha, of community?
Who comes when my son cheerily picks me up and drops me on the couch over and over? My body is now a small toy for a very large child. Our roughhousing and running into each other, the tumbling of love and growth. I am a pillow with bones.
Who comes when I write? Who shows up in the interstices between the word I wrote and the word I read? The seasons change, a fly, buzzer of summer, on a velvet pillow? Who comes? Jittery nerves and terrible fears of past pain because a word I wanted wasn’t said. My desires awakened by a silliness, a decades old memory of laughing, in my red boots, at a very forward Frenchman. Femme qui rit moitié dans son lit. Was it me? The me of now, the me of then. Who is laughing now?
Who are we all going to be? Who is waiting for us in the wings, oh Hamlet? My son and I eventually went to the Serengeti and ate popcorn at night around the campfire while lions rumbled. But it was dry, too dry. The thunderheads never brought their gifts and the watering holes blew away in dust and they said why do you Americans not believe in global warming? Look, look, all the dead trees.
*according to The NY Times, HSP = home sexual partner. My new favorite romantic term.