I was working on the narratives for my grades. They are due on Monday (a weekend of Easter and Passover celebrations!) And then it happened. It has been nearly 4 years. It was bound to happen sooner or later. In fact, I didn’t think it would have lasted this long. As I was leaving the Middle School office Friday in the midst of grade writing, my red string bracelet, blessed and given to me by Bhutanese buddhist monks who were part of the Smithsonian’s Folklife Festival on the National Mall in Washington DC, caught on the doorknob and snapped. It was still triple wrapped around my wrist with its two ends dangling.
I ran to the man who sits at the security desk in the lobby and asked him to tie the ends together again. As he fumbled with the red string, I realized how silly it was of me to try to save it. It was time to let it go. Wasn’t that the significance of the bracelet to begin with?
This desire for symbolic ornament has always been a part of my nature. Earrings, rings, even certain pieces of clothing carry rich and varied significance for me. Objects have power. We imbue them with power. It is in the assigning of that power and the memory of that assignation that the power exists. Making the inanimate alive and sacred with meaning, with consequence, and inference is creative and sacred work. This is in part why I make art— I can play with magic all the time.
The protection and blessing cord serves as a moral guidepost, a way for Buddhists to remember the five precepts of Buddha- To abstain from killing, stealing, sexual misconduct, lying, and intoxication. Its magic and power comes from the breath of a lama who breathes a blessing into a knot on this cord.
My wrist feels bare, missing this red cord which has circled it for almost 4 years. But there is really nothing I lack. I am at a confluence of sacred energies, surrounded by family and friends who encircle me with selfless generosity and compassion. This is my protection. This is my red blessing.