I ended the first post of this series talking about having the curiosity of a child in a brand new playground. As I wrote that line I questioned whether the analogy was still appropriate. Yesterday, during our most illuminating conversation so far, I got my answer. Karaj asked me whether I could recall at what point in my life my journey of self-development had begun. It felt as though he was searching for information to satisfy his own curiosity, rather than to make a point for my benefit. It felt different to how our relationship used to be.
When I told him about being dissatisfied with myself at 14 and resolving to do something about it, he suggested the process had begun even earlier. I talked generally about my need to understand things in great detail. I get frustrated if I don’t understand and I ask question after question until I do. He encouraged me to explore the subject, and to know that my questioning occurs at the level of feeling rather than cognition. Cognitive questioning is surface level, whereas at the feeling level it goes deeper.
Our conversation continued, taking various turns through subjects such as the duration of my training and the timing of our reunion. We agreed: it all had to take as long as it took, and the same is true of Karaj’s journey. As we talked, my friend Francis came to mind for the second time this week. I indicated to Karaj that one advantage of leaving when I did was that I got to spend two years with Francis back in Germany before he died. I explained that, at the end, it had been a difficult time, but one which I have always felt privileged to have experienced.
Karaj immediately surged into life: ‘That’s it. You have seen death. The ultimate separation. That is why your eyes look different. That is why you have made the kind of progress which actually shouldn’t be.’
He described how the experience of death changes people and that, as a result of what has happened, my curiosity has been replaced by reflection; a deeper contemplation of events, grounded in the foundations I have built over the past 14 years and more. It made sense what he said because, although the fundamental nature of our relationship remains unchanged, there is a different quality to it. The playground is the same, but the child has moved on.