In “Summation,” I am taking the opportunity, rendered by eighty-five years, to explore an important realization. At the age of three or four while playing with paper doll scraps I discovered that selecting them, arranging them, removing unwanted elements on a dark rug produced astonishing happiness. Once satisfied, I could recreate this amazing happiness with a tiny change in the arrangement. I was somehow affirmed. I see it now as a mystery, an alchemical event. An adult entered the picture. “Clean up this mess.”

What are we to think? How many of us have had this existential moment? Most of us, I wonder, including my mother. She spent her life trying to capture her true self and so have I.

A roller skating rink in a large arcade on the shores of Lake Michigan. It’s 1939. I am young. I could go by myself. I’m going around and around on little wheels going around and around and I am happy! This form of conditioned happiness continued throughout my teenage years and into my young adulthood. I can’t say that the happiness I experienced on roller skates was an exchange for paper scrapes but it was close.  

I believe that our idea of ourselves is formed by events such as these and by the cause and effect of our affinities. I am a great believer in affinities. They are purely unruffled. Rules and regulations, our culture, our religions may keep us in line but it is our affinities that tell us who we are. And it is usually the tug of war between the two that cause our attachments and our aversions which result in suffering.

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