any night in mid-may (living hagiography 5.14.2012)

Any night in mid-May will look roughly the same this year:

A pile of paper, clipped to one side and liberally adorned with multi-colored scrawls between typed lines. Computer on with several windows (word-processing, on-line dictionary, email) open. A coffee mug and a thermos on the floor. Candle burning (and possibly the last of a stick on incense) on the altar. Calendar open, with the next highlighted deadline pulsating (or seeming to pulsate). All of May and part of June is a veritable string of deadlines, like Christmas lights. The whole presided over by my patient luggage, already packed and installed in the corner. The clock ticking on the wall, unhelpfully.

I just got back from a long weekend in Seoul. Several meetings, some personal, some official. Buddha’s Birthday approaching, with all the usual hullabaloo; and three days after, I leave for the US. In between, I have several translation and editing projects, as well as a workshop, to take care of. These things are helping cover the summer’s expenses, which is partly how I found myself with that string of lights on my calendar.

During a weekend like this past one, it’s too difficult for me to try and keep up with the daily writing projects here. Not only do I usually not have access to a computer, but the feast-or-famine quality of my interactions with friends and monastic family in Seoul usually means that I cram several meetings into one day, with the last one usually being a fellow brother or sister, and we talk right up until the moment we turn out the lights at the Zen Center and go to bed (to get up for practice the next morning). And after I get back, it takes me a couple of days to settle back down into my routine at home.

All this is to say, this May is busy. I have another weekend in Seoul, followed by Buddha’s birthday and my departure (a multi-day affair with lay-overs in China and the US) for Boston. And Boston, too, will be a city in which I feast, before moving onto NYC. Where, too, I will likely have a hit-or-miss relationship with this blog while I enjoy the daily company of old friends, for the first time in years.

Does every expat feel this way, the torrent of hunger for seldom-seen friends and family? Of the many things I might regret at the end of this life, giving time over to any one of my several families (monastic, kin, and friends) will not be one of them, any more than I regret having a daily schedule and routine that in more sedate times grounds me and keeps the various humors of my life (spiritual, creative, intellectual) circulating.

So, although any night up until now in 2012 involved writing one and then two exercises for this blog, May will be a little less regular. It will depend partly on work. (These translation and editing projects, to my annoyance, are rarely smooth things where I can break the work up into manageable chunks, but are subject to sudden changes and revisions, making the whole thing leap into patches of frenetic activity before settling down again into lethargy.) And partly on the adjustment to both the US and to an intensive language program in June. For now, though, May for certain will likely see some decreased activity here, as activity elsewhere picks up.


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