Wednesday, February 03, 2010


The Bamboo Flute Burning

I burned two old bamboo flutes today in the woodstove. They were old,
perhaps 30 years old. They were broken, and unplayable, and really,
unfixable. That is, not worth fixing in a material kind of way. I used
to think they were worth fixing in a non-material way and that is why
I hung onto them. I thought every flute is sacred and important and
that I had a responsibility for each one in my care. But I never did
get around to fixing them.

I kept them, even broken, because they remind me that somewhere in my
fiction I want to play bamboo flutes, meditatively, quietly, perhaps
on a Bengali village roof top, or perhaps in a Zen like Japanese
setting, and some such mundane nostalgic thought place. They remind me
I had ideas about this other life. And as I live this life, and not
that life, they serve as little ghosts, hanging around, reminding me
of *that*, and when I am reminded, then I am not *this* and I am a
little torn, every day. When I walk through the house, turn around,
and look at those flutes out of the corner of my eye, look at myself,
with some firmness and some clarity, I know that they are in the flute
bin, collecting dust and not really being helpful. I have kept one.
That is enough. It works, it was fixed by a kind friend. There are
thousands of bamboo flutes in the world, perhaps millions. If I live
that other life they will be there for me.

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