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  • On Tuesday, I was going to bring you a picture. It is of Tohei Sensei, one that I got at an Aikido seminar this summer in Las Vegas. Tohei Sensei died recently; he was one of the great masters, one of the few 10th degree black belts, one of O-Sensei’s direct disciples. There are many, many photos of him, mostly in his gi and hakama, throwing one of his students. I grabbed a few of those, too.

    But this one, this one was unlike the others. In it, he is sitting down on some kind of stone; we assume, from the look of the photo, that it’s a building, maybe a temple. It’s by the sea, apparently on one of the Japanese islands known for having deer.

    On the water, an older structure stands, red, I think, although the color in the photo is not so great. I don’t know the significance of what it is. Tohei Sensei is in a suit, a patterned gray jacket and black slacks, a white shirt. He’s holding a cane in his left hand. In other photos, he is holding a staff, a fan. This one, a cane. In this one, he is thinner, quite old. It is hard to tell if his eyes are closed or not, but he has the slightest hint of a smile. At the very least, we can see his serenity.

    It is what the deer must have seen, too. This small deer who is either sniffing or licking Sensei’s hand. The way Sensei’s hands are casually draped over the cane, we can’t assume that there was food there. The conclusion that we must draw, or that we’d like to draw is that Tohei Sensei’s projected energy, his ki was full of good intentions, of care. After all, he was the teacher that wrote that the purpose of our training is to love and protect all creation.

    On the surface of the photograph itself, this one, the one I wanted to bring to you, there’s a bit of wax on the right edge of the photo from when I fell asleep one night with a candle burning near the open window in my bedroom. The wax dripped onto this photo, others, and the table by my bed.

    The photo was on my car seat the night I drove north and had asked to see you. It’s still there, although now tucked up with the CDs on the driver’s side mirror.

    It would have made an imperfect gift, I know. Who brings someone he likes (as I like you) an unframed photo, with no context, with lines of orange wax still visible on the corners? I do, because if anyone might understand how much I meant the gesture to be an expression of my sincerest attractions, I think, I really do, that it would have been you.
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