Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Twenty-five and foolish; thirty and disillusioned

In a recently published short story, Elizabeth Crane's character, after recounting how foolish she was at 25, writes,  "I wouldn't trade places with anyone under thirty if you paid me." 

I read a lot of memoirs by Westerners who go abroad seeking enlightenment.  I do this partly because I enjoy all the varieties of this kind of experience and partly (mostly?) because I'm trying to write my own memoir about living in a Buddhist temple in Japan when I was 22 and I want to see how other people have dealt with this subject.   Now, I'm almost finished with a memoir by Suzanne Morrison, YOGA BITCH.  At 25, the author went on an extended yoga retreat in Bali. She had Western teachers and all of the students were Western, so even for that reason alone, her experience, while stressful in some ways, was not nearly as traumatic as mine was. But it's interesting to see the similarity, too -- the way, if enlightenment is what we ourselves want, at that age we project it onto our teachers.  Then, of course, when our eyes are opened later on, when our teachers are revealed as imperfect, there is disillusion.  

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