I'm sitting in a hot springs, surrounded entirely by Japanese men. We are all covered only by our skin. There is a spacious silence among us. Occasionally a voice is heard speaking softly, privately. Facial expressions are the text to be read, but eye contact is minimal and the phrases are vague. Subtleties are everywhere, based on the intricacies of deeply individual expectations, assumptions, and interpretations. Who knows how many might or can be shared. Who even knows what the other is thinking. But worlds are being created and affirmed.
I feel that I am representing every Caucasian person on the planet, those who have been, are, and will be. Part of me wants to do something outlandish, out of character, outside of the expectations and assumptions, even and perhaps particularly my own. Not shocking. Just something to untie the entrenched concepts of 'other.' Maybe even something humorous, that would be great, but I have no idea what it might be.
Another part of me wants to become small, unobtrusive. To be unnoticed. Which is an impossibility. For a time, this part wins. I seek some sort of safety out of my self-consciousness. But... And... It allows me to become aware that there is an even more immediate and intimate surrounding – buoyant, embracing, faintly undulating waters – a slowly shifting calligraphy of shadow and light. In time they draw me to a deeper spacious silence. And I find a place that is simple and kind. I stand in my nakedness, up to my thighs in the springs, facing for the first time toward the east at the Pacific. I shut my eyes and hang my arms loosely to my sides, turning my palms to the rising sun. Tilting my head back slightly, breathing deeply in and exhaling long and easefully, an inward smile speaks all that needs to be said and at the same time all that I need to hear.