All my life false and real, right and wrong tangled
Playing with the moon, ridiculing wind, listening to birds
Many years wasted seeing the mountain covered with snow
This winter I suddenly realize snow makes a mountain.
– Eihel Dogen
For those who do not know, this is an example of a Koan. A Koan is a paradoxical anecdote or riddle, used in Zen Buddhism to demonstrate the inadequacy of logical reasoning and to provoke enlightenment. The purpose of koan is to help the individual escape himself from thinking and the constraints of the rational mind. The interpretation of a Koan is a personal thing. This interpretation is never right or wrong.
My personal interpretation of the Koan above:
All my life lied to, erased, not allowed to exist.
Many years wasted. Living as they wanted me to be.
Finally realizing in the winter of my life that I can exist
as I was meant to be,
not as they would have me be.
All my life
I allowed you to convince me, an intersex person, that I could not exist my authentic gender identity, a man, and sexual orientation, a gay man. After all, experts said I was supposed to be a girl. Of course, to a heteronormative world, I would like men.
Many years wasted
Living as they wanted me to be. First taught that I had to be a girl, and then becoming a beautiful woman. I was not given a choice, due to the invention of sex being only two, and homophobia forcing me into the shadows of the closet. Almost dying even, trying to conform to this world.
I realized living as Antoinette would kill me if I did not emerge to live my authentic self. She gave me the pain and suffering so that I could survive and now show this world that it needs to stop assigning our gender wrong. A message of self-determination to this world: That may be no one’s gender should be assigned at birth. For this, I am grateful that I suffered and am now an activist and educator who teaches this world that the gender binary is wrong. In my fifties, I am in the last part of my life, winter. Somehow surviving the painful trials of, spring, summer, and fall, but here I am in spite of it all, who I always was meant to be: an intersex gay man and father to my three kids. Also, proving to those who are older, that it is never too late to transition. Most of all, in creating my own restitution my birth certificate has been finally corrected to intersex.
My biggest gift from Buddhism is the awakening that all my suffering is my greatest gift to myself and to this world.
♥♥♥ This bog was published on my birthday. ♥♥♥
Answers to Common Questions I am Asked
I am Proudly the First in Colorado to get an Intersex Birth Certificate
2 thoughts on “A Zen Koan: The winter of my life.”
I’ve watched your video on YouTube on TEDx Talks and I am impressed with what you’ve done so far. Continue your amazing work! I’m a fan!
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Wow, thank you! I appreciate this gratitude.