Despite being favored with all that wealth can offer the wife was soon to find herself struggling to save her husband from the throes of self-abnegation. Appearances being unreliable the evidence of an unruly woe soon surfaced when the husband tried to drown himself with an overdose of barbiturates in his bathtub. The cat, as they say, was out of the bag.
The sight of the happy, wealthy marriage crumbles. The husband is hospitalized leaving the wife feeling helpless. In the face of their despair she seeks to save him.
It’s an ordinary story in many ways. It’s about a young, wealthy married couple. The husband is a Korean American who comes from a devout Christian family. The wife is a blonde, blue-eyed American who participates in her husband’s faith but does so in order to please and accommodate her husband and her husband’s mother. The husband is a conformist. The wife is a peacemaker.
In all respects they appear to have everything the modern material world offers. As stories much like life speak of conflict this couple discovers they are unable to have children. Of course, they seek medical help only to be told that the husband’s sperm is too weak to impregnate the wife. His powerlessness leads to his suicide attempt, her powerlessness leads to something else altogether.
The wife becomes frantic. Although shaken she resolves to help solve the problem. She considers prayer only to be told by her husband, “God will not give us a child.” Hearing this, the wife concocts a plan to find a sperm donor that looks like her husband. By a chance meeting at her fertility clinic she overhears a young Korean man turned away as a sperm donor. He wants to sell his sperm for cash, but the clinic rejects him because they discover he is an illegal alien making it impossible for the clinic to do a required background check.
The wife sees this as fortuitous and decides to follow the unhappy man. She knows he is willing to sell his sperm, but she knows little else. It turns out he lives in a rundown tenement. With only the knowledge of his willingness to sell his sperm and that he looks like her husband she waits for him on the stairwell to his apartment. When he returns she explains she’d like to hire him to donate his sperm to her for cash. She tells him that for each impregnation she will pay him $300 and when she gets pregnant he will receive $30,000 in cash.
The young man, solemn and perhaps reticent agrees to the deal whereby they begin at once. He performs his work without complaint or joy. The wife similarly remains stoic during each encounter and seems to endure it as a means to an end.
But again, as appearances are unreliable, things change. The young man begins to want to know more about her. It begins with small seemingly innocent questions such as what’s your name and where do you live? But the wife reveals little as she undresses and places her clothes into a plastic bag as his apartment is worn and scruffy.
Again as daily life unfolds the young donor happens to see the wife with her husband in an expensive car from the backroom of a cleaner where he works part-time. He discovers two things, she is wealthy and her husband looks like him. The young man decides to press for more information. He insists she take him to lunch before he does his does his work. He orders expensive food and begins to drink telling her he can perform better with a few drinks. He continues to demand and she resists. They both end up in an angry shouting match in the restaurant.
With a rift between them, they both leave angry and go their separate ways. But the young donor turns back and finds the wife in a doorway crying. She allows the young donor to embrace her and hold her while she weeps. He walks her to a place in a nearby park where he shows her a pile of rocks. He tells her that he makes a wish and places a rock on top of the cairn in order to help him throughout the day to keep his wish in mind. She wants to know if it works since she earlier had asked her husband to teach her to pray but was told by him that prayer was useless. The young donor, on the other hand, tells the young wife that his stone does seem to work for him, that it does matter.
They return to his shabby apartment where it becomes obvious that something has changed. It is no longer a suffering through experience but one of mutuality of kissing, caressing and lovemaking. The wife becomes pregnant.
Once she discovers she is pregnant she returns to the young donor and tells him that she will never see him again because she is pregnant then hands him the $30,000 in cash. She returns to her husband and tells him a lie so that he will believe the child is his and all looks like it is going as she wished. There is a brief period of an appearance of happiness between the wife and the husband. But as appearances are unreliable, it is short-lived.
Both the wife and the young donor are unable to get each other out of their mind. In time she returns to see him where she sleeps with him but tells him it must end. The husband, in the meantime, finds out about the young donor and turns him into the immigration police whereby he is picked-up and immediately sent back to Korea.
In a heated argument the husband tells the wife to abort the baby and he will forget everything and they can begin again. The wife becomes hysterical and tells him no but he persists until she screams at him that it is not his baby, but hers. “It’s mine!” she tells him. When she refuses to abort the child, he pushes her and kicks her in attempt to kill the baby.
At the end of the film the wife appears on a beach similar to a photograph of a beach in the shabby apartment of the young donor. She plays with a young boy, obviously her son and then retreats to the sand where she is noticeably pregnant.
What looked like a rescue mission for her despairing husband became a transforming series of experiences for the wife. The declaration, “It’s mine!” was a declaration of the wife’s new birth. She claims something she conceived. She verified for the husband the baby is not his, but something that belongs to her. It is clear that she is resolute. She does not yield to the husband. His persistent demand to abort the child makes it clear she is unbending to his will. She is emancipated, free of his will, his wish and his choice. She makes a steadfast choice.
And this choice is immutable. Nothing seems to challenge her. She remains resolute and unspoiled by his pleadings to abort what she has done and remains literally undamaged by his physical attack. She bears what is hers and does not cave in to the assaults levied against her. She is free from the ties of worry, helplessness and overwrought concern to save her husband.
Her response to suffering as a worried, concerned wife took her through the door of independence. The husband seems to remain caught in the social and perfunctory tradition of his family. His determination to get his way, to resort to physically hurting her suggests he has much work to do to escape the binds of his conditioning.
Her awakening was sudden although it developed over time through the ordinary events of her life as a wife. She unexpectedly cut the binds to the husband by choosing life no matter what the consequences might be.
Change, that which is not seen, is inevitable but it is neither an accident nor a plan; it is more an inexplicable mixture that follows the law of the universe. It is a paradox of knowing we are not in charge, and yet we are responsible to do our very best to end suffering right in the middle of it.
The husband wanted to abandon his life because he saw himself as a failure despite his youth, good looks, wealth and upbringing. But his relinquishment and focus were never very far from his own interests and self-concerns. He wanted to appear to be a success. He wanted to maintain the strictures of a tradition even those he felt were useless. He is not to be reviled but to be understood for where he is.
The wife took risks out of love and her sense of helplessness in relation to her husband’s despair and suicide attempt. She went beyond her self-concerns and did what she felt she needed to do to save her husband, her marriage and to give birth to new life. She did not live in the confines of how it might look to others. She was willing to endure what she initially felt was a repugnant duty which later becomes her saving grace
There was something pure, innocent and good about her actions and in the end her risks saved her from a deadened, wooden somewhat perfunctory life. She found herself in a place she never could have imagined, never could have planned or propagated from her schemes and plans. She knew something else was important than how it looked and was willing to risk her relationship, her marriage and her life to find it. Did it look anything like what she might have thought at the beginning of her actions? Probably not! But she is able to recognize what has happened to her when she declares amidst threats from her husband to abort the baby, “It’s mine.” The new life in her is hers!
Remarkably the efforts were taken through ordinary means, although the means could have led to her death. Imagine hiring a stranger to impregnate her? She risked her life. She was blessed with finding a donor who was an honorable man, a hard-working, devoted man. He prayed with stones. He had faith. He began to care for her and refrained from doing her harm which he easily could have done.
Her faith saves her, not a prescribed faith imbedded in doctrine, dogma and rules, but something unruly, unbidden and unknown which flows out unexpectedly. There are telltale signs of what affects it but it comes with no specific, literal guaranteed outcome. What we do know is that it involves the conversion of the heart and mind and a willingness to be converted, suddenly converted. .
Spiritual change which is what is most important is neither blind nor magical but it does often surprise and amaze us. When it happens we experience it but often are unable to explain how or why it happens. The inexplicable quality of spiritual change is a safeguard against humans poaching God’s territory. The best we can do is to do our sincere best in life as it is. We endure the ordinary, we risk in the ordinary, and we commit our efforts to begin and continue.
Based on the film Never Forever (2007). An excellent film showing the spiritual potential of mu in two words, “It’s mine.” Director: Gina Kim Writer: Gina Kim Stars:Vera Farmiga, David Lee McInnis, Joseph Y. Kim
 Mu…a response to a koan often translated as NOT.
Copyright 2015 Yao Xiang Shakya
To see more literature about Zen and the Art of Investigation:
by Anthony Wolff (Ming Zhen Shakya)
Part 10: The final split-up
Rick had seen that the kind of all-purpose nylon zip ties that Dawson used were the light weight ties that could be purchased in any hardware store. He knew the well publicized technique of putting the knot in the center of his bound hands, getting his body in a slightly bent position, and then raising his hands above his head as if he were bringing his shoulder blades together and while bending his arms at the elbow and holding them outward like wings, bring his hands and elbows down in a hammer blow against his hip bones while pulling his hands apart so that all the force had been transmitted to the knot, breaking it. But all this depended on his ability to bring his hands from behind and in a stooping position to step through his ams until his hands were in front of him. Helena was so agile, he thought, she could free herself from any of these amateur restraints. But not so with her husband. True, Rick had lost a considerable amount of weight maybe… just maybe he could do it. Before Begay was tossed inside for a second time, Rick struggled in the closet. He stooped and squatted but his hands refused to step under his feet and come up to the front. A shim. He needed a shim or a stiff piece of metal like a woman’s beret that he could adapt. It was dark in the closet and he could find nothing that could serve the purpose of a shim.
Well then, he’d look around for something to cut the nylon band with. There was nothing. He was hoping that he had left an old guitar in the closet. He could use one of the strings as a cutting tool, but no… he had moved the guitar. There were no sharp things and not anything he could sharpen. He had lost weigh… maybe if he got the knot in the middle he could perform the same breaking technique using his behind as an anvil instead of his hip bones. But the closet was so narrow… not at all like a bedroom closet. With his knees he cleared a place on the floor, made sure the knot was in the middle of his hands, and stood up and tried to balance himself on one foot.
His head scraped the coat hangars and rainware that nobody ever wore. He bent in a kind of semi-squat with his behind out as far as he could get it while standing on one foot with his ankles bound. He raised his hands behind him and brought them down against his behind. His hands bounced off the rear and he lost his balance and fell forward on his knees. His head struck Helena’s “gardening” coat… a raincoat she used when she had to dig in the dirt. She liked the long coat because she could kneel on it when planting bulbs or.pruning suckers from the base of trees and shrubs. could she have left pruning shears in her coat? . Before he could explore the coat with his mouth, Begay was tossed inside again, this time to wait for Morgan to finish in the bathroom.
“Enough is enough, Markovitz,” Begay said disparagingly. “You lead a dangerous life.” He calmly stepped through his hands, bringing them to the front of his body. “What’s the matter? Too many pounds on you? I’ll sponsor you to join the Health Club at the hotel.”
“Unlike you,” Rick replied in his effete voice, “I have been bound in two places. The degree of difficulty is exponentially greater.” He noticed that when Began stepped through his hands, he had turned Helen’s coat and the outline of the pruning shears showed. “Since you’re so nimble, would you be kind enough to hand me those shears… right behind your head… in my wife’s pocket? I’ve been wanting to get to them, but it’s been one interruption after another.”
Begay pulled the shears from Helena’s pocket. Rick turned his body and held out his hands. “It will be so much easier for you to free me and then for me to free you.”
“Yes. I figured that out by myself,” Begay said, snipping through Rick’s wrist tie. Then, without asking, he cut his ankle restraint. Rick immediately took the shears and cut Begay’s tie.
They could hear footsteps coming towards the closed. Rick whispered, “Hold the tie in place so that it looks as if it’s still restraining you. I’ll keep my hands behind me.”
As Andy led Morgan by the collar back into the living room, outside, near the front door, a casino security guard took out his S&W semi-automatic and holding it behind himslf, rapped lightly on the window.
“See who that is,” Dawson ordered. “I’ll keep my gun on the driver.” He motioned to Morgan. “Get over here beside Mrs. Begay.” Morgan sat on the couch.
“Who is it,” Andy yelled.
The guard did not know what Rick’s last name was. “I’ve got a special delivery for Mr. Markovitz.”
Dawson said, “Ask him who sent it.”
“Who’s the sender?” Andy asked.
Again, the guard could think of no other meaningful name. “Dodge Rosewall.”
Dawson hissed, “I knew that son of a bitch was in on it! First I’ll put the women in the closet and then you can let him in,” Dawson pulled Anita and Helena to their feet and marched them to the closet. “Get in there!” he said. Rick heard him and, expecting the closet door to open, went from a kneeling position into a squat. His bulk shoved Begay to the side. The moment Dawson opened the door, Rick tackled him, and Dawson stumbled and skidded backwards, falling face-up on the floor. Rick held his legs and Helena leapt up and jumped on his chest, knocking the wind out of him. As he gasped for air, she jumped onto his right arm and Rick grabbed the gun from his hand. Anita kicked his head so forcefully that it was possible to hear something snap in his neck.
Clive began to whine. “Ain’t somebody gonna answer the door? I’m gonna lose my eye!” His sleeves were filled with blood from using them to wipe his face. He headed to the front door. “Make them take me to the hospital first!” he shouted at Andy. Clive’s gun was still stuck in his belt in the small of his back.
Andy stood in the foyer not knowing what to do. “Open the door!” Orren yelled, and Andy automatically turned the lock and let the guard in. Rick jumped up, grabbed Helena and pulled her into the closet behind him, pushing her onto the floor on top of Begay. As soon as the front door opened, the guard pushed Andy away and, seeing Rick with a gun that appeared to be pointed at Anita, he fired at Rick, grazing his right shoulder. The slug buried itself itself into the coset wall.
Rick had no way of knowing who the guard was or what he was doing there. He could not imagine that any friend or guard of his would try to shoot him. As he grabbed his wounded arm, he shouted,”Here!” and tossed the gun to Morgan. “Protect Anita!” He stepped in front of Helena. “Stay down!”
“Hold your fire!” Morgan shouted as he caught the gun.
“He’s my body guard!” Begay stood up, dumping Helena on the floor, and yelled at Rick as if to reprimand him.
Clive had staggered back into the living room and the guard looked at him as if to say that he wasn’t worth wasting a bullet on. He grabbed the back of Clive’s head and forced him down onto the rug. He removed the gun from his waist.
Rick looked at Begay. “Kindly tell your guard to be a bit more respectful of my rug!” He went to pick up Clive. “Get your stupid ass into the garage!”
The guard had turned toward Andy and pointed his weapon at him. “Get down on the floor and put your hands behind your head! he shouted. Andy dropped to his knees and then flopped forward, burying his face in the deep soft pile of Rick’s $60,000 Persian rug.
“Get those shears!” Begay shouted, trying to help his wife. But Helena had already gotten them and was cutting through Anita’s restraint. Dawson was unconscious. Clive stumbled into the garage, and sat on the floor, hosing himself down with the same hose that Rick had used the day before.
Paulina Sue had had enough. She marched into the living room and checked Olivia’s jaw. “It doesn’t seem to be broken, but it sure didn’t help those teeth. We’ll getcha’ more cloves and cotton.” She reached into Dawson’s pocket and got the $10,000 he had taken from Rick. She held up the money. “I’m gonna take half of this,” she said plaintively. “Let me give half to the kid. Maybe he can find a cheap doctor to fix his face.” Rick nodded. She divided the money in half and tossed half to Orren. “Do what you can with this, kid.”
Orren mumbled, “Thanks, Aunt Paulina Sue.”
Paulina Sue stood like a warrior goddess in the center of the room and gave incontestable orders. “Now,” she said to Babs, “put the kids and the vets in the van. We’ll drop the vets off at a shelter. We’re heading east. Put pillows in the passenger’s seat for Olivia and put the seat all the way back.” She turned to Helena. “You got any pain pills you can give her?”
Helena, had just finished putting on the dress she had been attempted to model when the trouble began. “Yes, I do. I’ll get them. She’ll sleep.” She went into the medicine chest and emptied the unused half of a pain prescription into a handkerchief and brought it to Paulina Sue who thanked her. After we go, you can call the cops and they’ll pick up the three musketeers and take ’em back to jail.”
Considering that their fingers had been in contact with all the food that was in the kitchen, Helena said, “Here, take the food with you from the kitchen. You’ll need to feed the kids tonight.”
Paulina Sue carried a cardboard box of food into the living room. She helped Olivia get into the van and returned to the living room. She looked at the stunned group of people who stood and stared at her. Nobody objected. As Babs, the vets, and the children filed out of the house and got into the van, she turned to Anita. “Hagoonee’,” she said.
Anita answered. “A’aa, hagoonee’.”
“What did all that mean?” Helena asked.
“Nothing,” Begay answered. She said, ‘Goodbye’ and Anita answered, ‘Goodbye to you, too.'” He sighed. “I need a drink.”
Helena returned to the kitchen and called, “A gimlet?”
“Make that two,” Rick answered.
“If you wouldn’t mind, sir….” Morgan had started to tremble in a kind of post traumatic response.
“Bring a whole pitcher in.” Rick called. He looked at his rug. “Oh, hell, let’s all go in the goddamned kitchen.”
The security guards fanned out to guard the perimeter as the van, driven by Paulina Sue, backed out of the garage.
Orren had sat quietly at the side of the garage. He made no move to go to the van. Rick dumped Dawson’s unconscious body next to him and Begay led Andy, now cuffed, into the garage. Rick had called the Sheriff’s Department and a car was on its way..
In five minutes, Orren, Rick, Begay, and Morgan were the only males in the house; Anita and Helena, the only females. Begay’s and Rick’s guards patrolled the area.
Orren looked at Rick. “Please don’t call Child Welfare on me.”
“Wait a minute. Wait a minute,” Rick said. “What’s this business about Rosewall?”
“Uncle Don gave him $4,000 to get his money back from you. He says Rosewall didn’t do nothin’ for Four grand.”
“I gave him ten times that, and he didn’t do anything for me either,” Helena said.
Morgan interrupted the discussion to explain Orren’s roll in the rescue. “I didn’t want to believe him at first, but my gut told me he was an honest kid.”
Rick laughed. “Son, you are so much better off without those vermin.” He told the others how Orren had got his scars and how he and Helena had been victimized.
“Jesus,” Begay said. “You know,” he joked, “now that I look at him, he looks a little Navajo to me. I’ll tell you what. There’s a surgeon who comes to the Rez and works pro bono. Let’s have him fix the boy’s face. I’ll square it with him. Orren can stay with my folks until he’s finished with the surgery. Then he can make a decision about where he wants to live and go to school.” He looked at Rick. “Then we’re square about Anita’s portrait?”
“Ask my wife,” Rick answered.
“Sure, if you’ll also let him get himself some new clothes,” Helena said. “Actually, I did the portrait as a gift.”
“When the surgery’s finished we can enroll him in a boarding school off the Rez,” Anita said. “A boy needs an education.”
“If you put him in a boarding school,” Rick said, “I’ll cover the cost.”
Begay shook his head, considering the squatters. “Who the hell would believe a story like this? Squatters! Deliberate dog bites! It’s unbelievable!”
Anita sighed. “If my mother thinks we’re making this up to keep her from getting her portrait painted, my life will not be worth living.”
Helena smiled. “You just send your mother to my studio. Have her call me to discuss the time. I’ll see to it she’s painted as regally as she likes. Should I put the feathered band on her?”
“No!” Begay snarled. “And don’t put that band on anybody else! That band is sacred! Only my wife can wear it.”
“Darling,” Anita said, “there is no band. Helena made it up.”
Begay began to laugh and the others joined in.