My son wrote down one of his dreams for me:
I got off my train and started walking around. I found a pond covered with leeches. I started walking into it. I hit a leech as big as a school bus. It started chasing me. Jun-san* said “Stop!” and it stopped. Then I found my shoes.
*The Jun-san that Nino refers to here is Jun-san Yasuda, a family friend and Buddhist nun of the Nipponzan-Myōhōji order.
There are many different kinds of leeches. We are inside one of them. It swallowed you up and then you were here with us. But this isn’t so bad is it?
You can see this in so many ways. The way light halos off a leech’s slick body, like gasoline in parking lot puddles. It looks just like the nebulae out there in infinite heaven. We move through the leech like time. Forty times every second your brain shoots out a new segment, a frame, like a movie still. You stack all of these up and you’ve got a life. It begins and ends with light.
We all saw a light the moment you were born. It blinded me for a second, and then everything got hazy for a while. I never believed in anything before you. I thought I knew a whole lot of things, but I couldn’t believe in anything. And then you came and I knew there was something outside of here. Then I saw a picture of the Grand Canyon. Then I took some medicine and sat by a creek for an afternoon. There I looked for what’s out there. The more I look, the more I feel it.
I met your sister in a dream before she was born. I know this sound like just another one of the crazy stories I tell you, but it’s probably true, as true as things are going to get here. You can never be sure about anything. You can never know anything.
Some people will say this is terrible advice. This is a different kind of leech. The knower. The only thing I fear is a person who knows something. People will say everything is choice between love and fear. This is too simple and pretty corny and really easy to say to make yourself seem important, but maybe it’s a better way to look at things than right and wrong, or sin and virtue. The thing is, I don’t know, and I’m okay with that.
People who know things can justify all sorts of bad things that they do. Also, they’ll want you to be one of them, to be firm in your knowledge. Be soft. Be open to never being sure. It’s probably almost impossible to start a war if you’re open to this, if you can admit that you may be absolutely wrong about everything.
If there’s anyone who could tame leeches with words, it would be Jun-san. She’s devoted her life to peace through words and walking. She’s always praying or marching. The Lakota call her Woman Walks Far. To devote your life to peace, to prayer, is the probably one of the best ways to ensure you’re never hurting anyone.
You can think about your dream as just crazy thoughts, or something else. That’s up to you. Everything is. You can steer the leech. You can tame it, but remember, it takes a soft touch.