If you know me, you know how much I LOVE to read. I've always got my nose in a book and at least two more in the queue to read. I recently finished reading A Tale for the Time Being by Ruth Ozeki. They always say don't judge a book by it's cover, but I will admit that is exactly the reason I picked this up. How lovely is the cover and the title too?!
The story switches back and forth between two characters, Nao and Ruth. Ruth find's Nao's diary washed up on shore and is convinced that it is debris from the Japan's 2011 tsunami. Nao, a Japanese teenager, moves to Japan after her father is laid off from his tech job in Sunnyvale, California. Her father copes with ensuing depression and suicide attempts while Nao, who is bullied at school, also contemplates ending her life. Enter her great-grandmother, Jiko, a Buddhist nun who teaches Nao the power of meditation and family history. Ruth struggles to define her own role in Nao's life as a removed reader of the diary.
Recently, I have started my own meditation practice, so I was especially fascinated with the story and it's insights into Buddhism. I especially loved this passage towards the end of the book, "To study the self is to forget the self. Maybe if you sat enough zazen (Buddhist meditation), your sense of being a solid, singular self would dissolve and you could forget about it. What a relief. You could just hang out happily as part of an open-ended quantum array. To forget the self is to be enlightened by all myriad things. Mountains and rivers, grasses and trees, crows and cats and wolves and jellyfishes. That would be nice." (p398-399) The reason I started meditation is to calm my constant mind chatter, I worry about work, what other people are thinking, my to-do list, my health, my friends, my family, the problems of the world, what to eat for dinner, etc. It's constant, this mind of mine! I've been using the app Insight Timer and I love their guided meditations.
I'm not sure I felt satisfied with the ending of the book, but I don't believe the author was looking for a tidy finish. There is some ambiguity at the end and I think that's Ozeki's point... our lives can be interconnected to others in mysterious ways that may never seem clear. And sometimes one person's experiences can somehow, across time and space effect those of another. This book is thought provoking, as you can probably tell from my review! I hope you enjoy my thoughts and I recommend you pick up this story for a deeper dive into the world of quantum physics delivered in a easy to digest manner.