Tuesday, December 27, 2011


Even thinking about asking for help gives me the collywobbles. I just don't like doing it. Perhaps it's as simple as pride, but generally I like to do things myself, on my ticket, with my responsibility, and with a willingness to suffer my own regrets. "If you want things done right, do them yourself." Bah!

The proximate situation is like others that have preceded it: Having a dream, enjoying the dream, and then running into unanticipated difficulty when putting the dream into action. It's a familiar scenario, but that doesn't make it any less annoying.

The dream was conceived perhaps a month ago -- to transfer a book entitled "Remembering Soen Nakagawa Roshi" onto the Internet. The book itself was conceived and created by Estelle Gerard and consists of a series of recollections/appreciations of this Zen teacher by people who knew him or had some contact with him. The book was created in 2008 on what might have been Soen's 100th birthday. After publication, a copy was sent to Ryutaku-ji, a Japanese monastery of which Soen was abbot, and other copies were distributed to those who had contributed. The audience was limited. By putting it on the Internet, I thought the audience might be enlarged and people interested in Zen practice might have an added resource in their investigative efforts. The book is not critical and may in fact lean towards too much polite applause, but ... well, it is just one way of looking at things.

Anyway, I had the dream and it seemed to feel right. So I asked for Estelle's opinion and assistance. I needed the addresses of contributors in order to get their permission to re-use on the Internet what had been used in the book. Estelle came through, I sent out requests for permission and they have been dribbling in. So far, so good. A friend has agreed to scan in those parts of the book for which permissions are given. He'll do the heavy lifting ... a pretty nice gift.

But my own ignorance began to show up when I was forced to realize that someone is going to have to pay in order to assure that once it reaches the Internet, the book will remain available in years to come. Five years, maybe, or ten ... or longer. The price seems to be about $80 per year. Not an exorbitant amount, but an amount that, if I were to pay it, would put a dent in my Social Security lifestyle. I simply cannot afford, with age taking its toll and a family that needs watching over and a mortgage that needs to be paid, to be spending money on what is not bedrock crucial... a book, for example.

So at some point, I will have to ask around and see if anyone is willing to pay the freight...and keep paying it as the years pass. And the thought that nags is, if I am not willing to pay, on what presumption do I base a request to others who may likewise be strapped in hard times? I know that when times get hard, there are always those with disposable income to spare, but that does not assuage my doubts. I dislike asking or begging someone to do what I am not willing to do.

At some point, I suppose, I will "get over yourself" and make the request, but in the meantime the whole thing puts a serious crimp in my airy-fairy dreaming. Funny how I find little or nothing disquieting about asking Estelle for help (and gratitude for the open-handed response) and I find nothing disquieting about my friend's willingness to cobble the Internet version together (and gratitude for the open-handed effort), and yet cringe when asking for money.


Get over yourself, Adam.

1 comment:

  1. You've created a nice little problem for yourself in just trying to create a tribute site. Just have fun with it. It's no worse than cleaning toilets during popular retreats. LOL!