I actually don't see him come into the room (my attention is on
another aspect of this marvelously creative space) until I hear his
voice in my ear, welcoming me and hugging me (it's as if the
physical universe itself has suddenly grown arms, enveloped me, and
is hugging me). He's excited to see me - I can tell. It's palpable.
There's no standing on ceremony or politeness here with him. It's
his high-octane welcome which kick-starts the entire promise of
what's to come - like a Harley-Davidson's
full-throated roar at the start of the ride.
I've brought him a gift. I actually bought it for him years ago.
But this is the first opportunity I've had to give it to him. It's
a bottle of
of the 1992 vintage. It's therefore now twenty five years old. It's
a classic, a collector's item. I make the following request of him:
"As classic, prized, and as highly rated as this is, if you taste
it and it isn't perfect, then please promise me you'll pour it down
the drain.". There's Zen in that. He loves it. He promises. He says
he'll keep it for a few more years, then savor it.
of course is "Great Work". That's him. The logo has the profiles of
its co-creators merged. Everything about it is perfect as a gift
for him from me.
Around him I'm as open as a human being can possibly be - naked,
unveiled, transparent. In the course of taking the conversation to
a bone-numbing level of intimacy, I confess things I've done which
aren't OK with me, things I can't stand that I've done, things
which are my worst memories which I can't erase. I share with him
I've contacted each and every single person in those memories, and
that I've apologized to all of them, and that they've forgiven me.
But at the end of the day, I can't forgive myself. The
memories haunt me.
What he says next rocks me, tips my world off its
axis. He says our apologies only get us off the hook
with people. And you can't get off the hook with yourself.
He differentiates between apologizing for what we did, and
acknowledging what we did wasn't OK. What I did, wasn't OK.
That's the truth (end of story). That's where it
completes. I look: there's nothing left. It's gone very
quiet in my head.
He asks about my family, my children, my life in general. He's
surprisingly up to date with my entire life. I say "surprisingly"
because he doesn't have to be. I don't expect it. But he is. He
celebrates my children's successes with me. I acknowledge the
contribution he's being to my success as a father. I thank him. He
takes extra time to acknowledge his respect for my breakthrough in
my relationship with my ex-wife, the mother of my children, for
communicating with her and re-establishing the connection after a
ten year absence.
He shares his own now healed absence from his family with me. What
I get is he's clear what he did was not OK. There's no making it
right. No apology can do that - even if it's tried as a more
traditional path. It's his knowing what he did wasn't OK, that
completes it for me. I nod, amazed. He just proved to me his "What
I did is not OK (end of story)" works better than my "I apologize
for what I did.".
An aide serves us cups of piping hot green tea as we speak,
replenishing them from time to time. At some point the cups stop
being replenished. He calls out loudly, startling everyone within
earshot: "CAN WE HAVE MORE TEA OVER HERE ... THE
TWO PEOPLE?". The two people? That's he and me, the two of us.
This is intimacy in a crowded place. The cups are replenished.
Another aide lights a stick of fine Sho-Kaku Japanese
incense, placing it nearby in a holder. It's not pungent or smoky
like other incenses - in fact I can barely detect it. But when I
move my head to intentionally draw it into my nostrils, it's
sublime - divine, in fact. It's clearly something worthy of being
showcased in this extraordinary space - obviously well chosen for
this specific purpose. In this crowded place you'll find the very
best of everything.