Wednesday, September 29, 2004

novice monk, bangkok, thailand (d.leigh, '03)

the hollow tree

The Hollow Tree was the perfect fort—the kind that every kid hopes and knows exists somewhere, someplace, hidden in the woods behind some other kid’s house. And there it was, a quarter-mile deep into Kendra’s woods, a fantastic, magical living thing stretching branches and branches beyond the surrounding treetops. Its upper boughs had for years lain bare of the long-ago leaves that once appeared and turned and fell with the seasons. But no one could doubt the life of the thing. Could question that a living, breathing creature stood before them when they came upon it. The base and bottom third of its trunk formed a hollowed out shell. An empty space. A space waiting to be filled, to envelop, to hold. To contain kids and their whispers and secrets.

“The Tao is an empty vessel; it is used but never filled.”
—Lao Tsu, Tao Te Ching

Tuesday, September 28, 2004

hoi an

phone call, hoi an, vietnam (d.leigh, '03)
“We are so caught in our excitement, our depression, our hopes, and our fears that we cannot see that our function is not to live forever, but to live this moment. We try in vain to protect ourselves with our worried thinking: we plot how we can make it nicer for ourselves, how we can be more secure, how we can perpetuate forever our separate self. Our body has its own wisdom; it’s the misuse of our brain that screws up our lives.”

“The game when well played is for the most part a good game. It includes sorrow and joy and disappointment and problems. But it’s always real and rich, and it’s not unsatisfying or without meaning.”

Charlotte Joko Beck, Everyday Zen


Mornings are her favorite time. They are so full of sobriety and possibility—nothing yet wasted, so many moments waiting so expectantly, attentively. She wakes early by habit and with anticipation, not wanting to miss the gentle hours when the house and her world are silent and calm and soothing. She embraces the morning after a night of longing—longing for fears to recede to the edges of things, for solace to push its way through carefully, softly. Her nights are wakeful, watchful, on guard—marked by waiting and drifting, then waking and waiting again—every thought and sensation intensified, distorted, reveling wildly in the darkness as the red numbers glowing from the clock face change ever more slowly. Ever more painfully, interminably slowly.

Sunday, September 26, 2004


yahya, alexandria, egypt (d.leigh, '04)

(d.leigh, '04)

Saturday, September 25, 2004

muhammad's aunt

She greets us at the door of her tiny apartment, all blue housedress and bulging belly and wisps of wild hair defiantly struggling to escape the clutches of her hairpins. She ushers us into her bedroom—the only space available for sitting and sipping tea—and motions for me to take my place on the edge of her bed. I ease onto the hard mattress encircled by peach walls and hot pink curtains and small tables cluttered with plastic combs and photos and jars of cream and hair gel. She brings tea with milk and dry biscuits and makes small talk about conspiracies, an earthquake in Turkey, her broken air conditioner. Her coarse voice mingles with that of a beautiful Egyptian soap star lost in soliloquy on the T.V. screen in the corner. At once apologetic and nostalgic and proud, she thrusts tiny photos into my hands of her as a young woman. A past life . . . slim and beautiful with wide eyes and creamy skin and flowing locks of black hair that framed her face and draped over her shoulders.

Thursday, September 23, 2004

wat indraviharn, bangkok, and cat (d.leigh, 03)

Wednesday, September 22, 2004


this is a work in (the very beginnings of) progress...finally sorting through some of my many, many photos at

oh, and in the off chance you know of someone who needs a translator, here's yet another project in progress...

Tuesday, September 21, 2004


The resistance to silence, to quiet, was what she found most disturbing, most disorienting. A television set going in every room. The Dust Buster. Her lover seeking out every untended space—violating it, occupying it, filling it with words and meaning and movement. Consciously choosing to perpetuate fullness, to hold things in a swollen, bloated, distended state. Struggling against the natural tendency of things to fill and empty and fill and empty again. Against—and irrationally uncomfortable—with quiet, with hollowness, with the pulsing subtlety of it all. Always moving. Always doing. Always filling.

She was well into her forties before noticing what was driving her lover. To understand that it was not anger or impatience but fear. And then, ever so slowly, her blame and hatred started to soften, to sink into a profound sadness that, while inconsolable, was infinitely more human.