Monday, January 17, 2011

Papa Terma

For many many years, I waited for it, longed for it, imagined it.
A letter, a note, a picture with words; some kind of written confirmation.
Something from my father, who died when I was 12, saying that he loved me
missed me
would miss me
wished me well
with some words of wisdom and gentleness to guide me through the rest of my life
without him.

After searching through banker's box after banker's box, piles of economic journals, graded computer programming papers, receipts copied again and again, after years and years of secretly and not-so-secretly searching, hoping some time in the four years he was sick he thought to write to me, hoping somewhere in all the detritus of our now-sold childhood home, I would find IT. And I would know that was IT - THE letter, THE note, THE missive, THE missing piece.

I never did. Nothing for me, for either of my brothers.
"You should be glad you had a father than loved you" my mother would say on days when she was competitive over grief with me. The implication was at least when I had him he was great, even if I no longer had him in any way. Not many memories, and no notes, persay, not even to me when he was alive from him alive. Much less from him then alive now dead to me alive.

A couple of months ago I finally wrote myself that note. The feeling was one of finding the text in myself - the message mostly derived from Hakomi therapy, asking my inner voices what I need at a fundamental level - the text oriented around being gentle with myself, having perspective for all of life, and not working too hard - basically "do as I say not as I did." The message wasn't from him them, it was from him now - my dead father, as if he has grown this whole time alongside me, and seen how wrong he was in overworking, wrong he was in not being present to much in my life or my family's life, and how much he wanted to make sure I don't make the same mistakes.

For if my father were still alive I am pretty certain he wouldn't be able to see that. My living through his death and long past means I can start to see these things - I think his living through Cancer wouldn't have helped. But who knows. All I know now is that I received it not from me, persay, but from some part of him in me that has been secreted away, grown and opened, and now is blossoming when I need it most.

A Terma. Something buried from him, deep inside his Basic Goodness, his real self, hidden in the mindstream of our genes, coming alive when it is needed most. I am grateful for these teachings on Terma from Tibetan Buddhism - though my literal father would have likely scoffed at them as a skeptic, the inner father who is finally opening, that little voice, deep inside me, he knows it is true. We plant seeds and never know how they will mature, and the way his voice comes to me now, reassuring me I am making the right choices, to in fact do as he is saying now and not as he said or did then, I know he meant the best all along. He never meant to harm. He didn't know better. I can still be angry, and still forgive.

Looking through boxes a few nights ago I found this image of my dad and his mom. No date - I think it must have been just before he got sick. His mom, who was always so gentle and loving with me, was so severe with him (as you can tell in the photo). Ah the irony. He was quite loving with me but also so severe. The tone of the Terma I have received is that of this exact moment - laugh, love, be open. Don't care how you look in a photograph. You are fine. There is nothing fundamentally wrong with you or the world as it is. There are very few photographs of my father, especially later in life, as he was always the photographer, rather than the photographed. So this is a hidden photo, a surprise, as pictures of him always are from this era. And usually, he is not smiling. So a Terma within a Terma. I offer it to you, dear reader, as it was given to me - a quiet gift on a snowy day.

1 comment:

  1. Hi there!

    I just got a note on my blog regarding the Stylish Blogger Award. It's like a fun game of internet-tag-blogger-awesomeness, and I wanted to share it with you. (I will NOT be offended if you don't follow all the steps below or don't participate, it just made me feel warm and fuzzy inside, so I wanted to share it with you and let you know how much I enjoy your writing!)

    Here are the details:

    Recently I got a surprise… I got a stylish blogger award. I am passing it on to you because I love your blog and want to get it read by even more people. See my recent post for the list with your blog on it!

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    As always, I appreciate your honesty, your willingness to share your life, and how the dharma works through your experience.