Sitting in the train compartment, I look at the ticket in my hand – as big as a tablet, thick as animal hide, stamped so many times with the same origin and destination that it is nearly solid black with ink. Stealing glances at the other passengers, their random faces and bodies continually changing as if a hundred tiny storms sped over their surfaces, easy voices rising and falling in a chorus of shifting keys and accents. Anxious, I feel my face for the thousandth time, relieved to find the pins still hold it in place. The conductor appears abruptly beside me; it’s forever shocking, even though I always carefully rehearse this moment. Looking at me with something like sympathy, it gives me back my ticket. “We’re not stamping it this time,” it says in a multitude of language and voice. The wood of my compartment begins to warp and crack; frantically, I feel the pins holding my face give way, the flesh snapping like rubber bands. “This is all I packed for,” I manage to dribble through my crumbling lips, but the conductor is gone, and I am swept up in a river of morphing bodies onto what is already changing into something other than a train platform, everyone melting into each other with boiling faces and spattering conversations, me with my precisely composed face giving way, clutching my ticket relic, not at that destination I had persistently imagined but a bewildering array of shifting gates like a house of mirrors that the others are happily flowing through like water, and with a surprise of excitement I realize I have no idea how to work my new body, or what a step forward even means.
(Thoughts on chapter 7 of Each Moment Is the Universe: Zen And the Way of Being Time, by Dainin Katagiri. My intention is to write a poem or brief meditation on each short chapter as a way of summarizing my understanding.)