First, a disturbing dream. Or the end of a disturbing dream, since I don't remember how it started. I have been given the responsibility of taking care of a baby for the day. It would seem logical that it would be little Luka but, no, it's not Luka, nor is Sarah the mother of this baby.
My memory of the dream begins at the end of the day, at bath time. I take the baby to a kind of public, store front bath with two plain concrete tubs. For some reason I have come here as naked as the baby. At the adjacent tub is a rather large, Rubensesque woman, also totally naked, with her naked baby. After adjusting the hot and cold to the right temperature, I shower the baby thoroughly with one of those flexible hoses--but then realize that I have forgotten the shampoo. Assuming, without asking her, that my neighbor will keep an eye on the baby while I'm gone, I leave him in the tub while I head off to fetch the shampoo...
It's at this moment that the mother--not Sarah--arrives to find that I have left her baby alone in the bath tub. She flies into a rage and runs off, also, inexplicably, leaving the baby alone in the tub, where I return to find him and finish the job. Now out in the street--I seem to have clothes on at this point--I go off in search of the mother, presumably to appease her, calm her down, and assure her that everything is alright. Finding myself on a wide, graveled sidewalk, I sit to take a rest and get into deep conversation with some other person who is sitting there. And when I turn back to look, the baby is gone.
Gone! Nowhere to be seen, up or down the street. A feeling of utter dread, mixed with guilt, shame, and an overwhelming sense of betrayal. The baby has been stolen. How to ever find him again? I wake up in a panic, shouting my wife's name: Ellie! Ellie!
My first thought on waking is, of course, of Luka and the fear that I can no longer expect the number of years I would want to be there as his grandfather. Then of another, distant event I am not free to write about, since it involves deep feelings other than mine--though my own feelings, long hidden beneath the surface, do surely persist. And then I hit on this one: I have been giving serious thought to the possibility that it's time to bring The Buddha Diaries to an end. To let my own baby go...
Let me elaborate. I have been noticing, of late, an increasing lack of motivation on my part, a kind of boredom with my own voice, a sense that I have begun to repeat myself or to reiterate old thoughts to the point of becoming tedious. I no longer feel that sense of urgency. I even find myself looking for something to say. There is, too, a corresponding drop in readership. But when I think of letting The Buddha Diaries go, I have a terrible sense of emptiness and dread. I have no idea what will replace it. I have a huge chunk of identity tied up in being a "writer"--and a huge amount of fear about losing that identity. The Buddha Diaries has been a great source of affirmation in that regard. I also know, however, that it's sometimes important to take a risk. I have taken big ones in my life, and they have invariably opened up the door to greater things.
Having said all this, I would like very much to know what readers think before I "throw the baby out with the bathwater"! My stats show that there are a good number of you, a global readership, and I have always appreciated the time you take to open up the pages of The Buddha Diaries and read what I have to say. The decision is not yet made. Instead of closing down altogether, I might just move on from the daily commitment to a more occasional one, with the expectation that readership is likely to decline. If this were the case, would you be less likely to check in from time to time? Or does the regularity have meaning and importance? If you have thoughts about this and are reluctant to use the "comment" button, I hope you'll email me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org. I'd love to hear.