> jumping into life.

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The valley is a spirit-place, a good place, but it is not home.

There walks in that valley a ghost. A ghost of me; she is the ghost of the me who stayed. She is proud and lean and hollow; she will be a priest; she will devote her life to that place and that practice, and she will never be whole.

She is angry with me. I left her there to brave the winter alone, I missed her jukai, and I stole her only love.

She will whittle her self down as surely as any desert plant, the economy of heart that turns verdant leaf to spine. She is made of flame and Dharma, single-pointed concentration. She will become empty and call it Awake. Perhaps she will wake; perhaps I am trading enlightenment for love.

She stood behind me during zazen, her hot hands on my shoulders, her hot eyes in my skull. Her hair is shorn, her rakusu sewn, her vows taken and dearly bought. I was glad to meet her; she is not me.