Beginner's Heart

Beginner's Heart

what a difference a day makes (and other ways I wish I was like my grandson)

origami Kirin, by Satoshi Kamiya courtesy Google

origami Kirin, by Satoshi Kamiya
courtesy Google

My grandson burnt his hands Sunday. Not horribly, but badly enough that he cried inconsolably for hours. Today? He’s his usual sunny self: slapping the Cheerios on the highchair tray, pulling my hair, and laughing at nothing at all.

Why can’t I be like that?  Why can’t I let go of yesterday/ last year/ some childhood nightmare? How does he DO that??


Watching Trin, I learn as much as my doctoral studies, I swear. Obviously not ‘content’ (a word I’ve come to mistrust hugely), but critical life skills. Mostly how to be happy.  And it begins — just like the Buddha said — with letting go.

Trin has no expectations, other than what happens in the now. He’s used to being loved, I grant you. But he isn’t… attached to it, if that makes sense. When he’s burned (through no one’s fault), he cries because it’s not going away. But then? It does, and he moves on. image


The picture at the top of the page is a  Japanese kirin, known as qilin in Chinese. It’s a mythical animal, a cloven-footed, dragon-like chimera. And it has healing properties, some say. It’s the product of innumerable foldings of paper, carefully creased to bring to life an animal that probably never existed, other than in fable & legend. And yet Satoshi Kamiya, the origami artist, could see it so clearly in his mind’s eye that he was able to create a recognisable kirin. From gold paper.

Here’s the problem for me: my brain wants to be able to create the tangible from the evanescent: bubbles from air, a poem from a dream, a meal from a wish to comfort. But the very vision that enables that creative thought also makes me subject to that Buddhist bugaboo: attachment. I become attached to my creations. I build castles (sometimes from… well, alliterative substances) that I never end up even visiting, but which still cause me grief.


Trin can’t create a poem (yet). Nor can he envision much of what isn’t there in front of him. (To be fair, sometimes he has a hard time with what’s tangibly present!) But he also doesn’t attach to what has never been. He doesn’t worry about something that may never come to pass.

So no, he can’t imagine a kirin. But he also doesn’t fixate on the pain of a day now past. I’m not sure I have the better deal…

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