December 23, 2022
Dearest Elizabeth and Samantha,
I have decided to write a lengthy reply to both of you to document my response to our meeting yesterday, and to reply to Elizabeth’s and Samantha’s emails, so that both of you have a written record of my replies.
Our afternoon meeting was a wonderful pleasure. I was supremely delighted by the youthful passion and eagerness you radiate even more forcefully when you are together. And I was warmed by the evident love both of you have for my writings as well as by your abundant compliments and words of praise. Seeing how your long-time friendship compliments, strengthens and warms each of you when you are in each other’s presence, seeing both of you ‘in action’ when discussing my writings- the whole experience gave me great joy, relief and trust that my writings will be well cared for in the foreseeable future. I am deeply indebted to both of you, as I note below.
I would like to address your comments and praises with a sequence of numbered points, taking a cue from Samantha’s wonderful organizational capacities shown in her email.
1) While I certainly appreciate all your praise and warmth, I would like to emphasize that despite appearances and aftereffects, I am just a Woman. Yes, I have not aged like everyone else. But I am a human Woman who bleeds when cut, who still menstruates, who feels pleasure and pain, has fears and doubts, expresses joy, sadness, anger and indifference, and who makes mistakes and loses her temper, even at my unusual age. I say all of this lest word gets out that I am sort of a deity.
2) Elizabeth’s passion is normal. Everyone and anyone can develop sudden passions for persons, things or events. And it is also normal when one is in such states of passion to ‘overvalue’ the ‘object of your affection’. It is a distinctly human, but also a distinctly natural trait, to put your love interest ‘on a pedestal’. And when the passion dissipates, we all go through the normal, bitter process of ‘dismantling the statue’. I have gone through the same process myself- hundreds of times in fact! So I give much credit to Elizabeth for expressing her passion with a wonderfully balanced sense of humor. It is a supremely refreshing and very healthy way of evaluating oneself!
3) I want to note that while point (2) is a common personal experience, for the sake of proper and correct public knowledge, I really am not a deity or anything especially ‘great’ or superlative. Elizabeth and Samantha, and perhaps other enthusiastic readers, will become passionate about my writings and will want to praise me for writing them. Singing praises is a wonderful, warm and worthy activity. It is always good to celebrate what one values.
4) But it is important to abstain from too much praising and mental ‘myth-making’, especially if the source of your passion is a person. Our passions can easily transform a person into a myth, and a myth into an ideal. As humans, we are all easily moved by ideals, especially when we are young. I know because I had my youthful idealistic phase for many, many years. However, those passions for ideals can occasionally be too powerful for our own good. Our passion for ideals can be the cause of discord, prejudice, anger and more regressive thinking and behavior. And I would much prefer not to be simplified into an abstract ideal and therefore become a source of discord or stress. So, hoping that the ‘third time is a charm’, and with a gentle smile, I am not a deity, goddess or super-woman. I am just a Woman. And as the both of you may have guessed, I am quite proud to be a Woman!
5) If I may be allowed to belabor point (4)- one of the lessons my unique view of humanity has taught me is that we need to exercise care in our valuations of others. As adult people with maturity and self-control, we should try, as best as our spirit and feelings allow us, to have a balanced appreciation of another person’s value. By this I mean that we should avoid significantly ‘overvaluing’ a person or people, just as we ourselves want to avoid being undervalued. After all, who is to say that a farmer from 4,000 BC has any more value than a current head of state? We protect heads of state because we concede to them great power, for which they retain great responsibilities. But if that farmer from 4,000 BC was our father or mother, we would want to protect him or her as well, with just as much vigor. This is because we would naturally value him or her even more, through the strong natural bond that links children to their parents. And since we are all someone’s father or mother or child, we all have comparable value. We should keep this in mind when we judge others.
6) Myths and ideals have the power to fire up our spirits because they encapsulate and reflect simple concepts we express and understand. Words are the vessels of such concepts because words are the bloodstream of meaning. We use words to express our thoughts and feelings in personal letters, thereby stimulating thoughts, memories and feelings in the recipient of our letters. The power of the words in letters is limited to the experience shared by two people, the person who writes the letter, and the person who receives the letter. But even in this limited context, words can have considerable force. When two lovers exchange letters, the words in those letters can alight their spirits, amply reinforcing their mutual bond by revealing their hearts and souls and stimulating more feelings of love, empathy, passion and joy in each other.
7) When words are publicly broadcast, such as words written on internet platforms, they have far greater power because they can affect far more people. Therefore, the writer of such words has great responsibility because such writings have great potential to inform and galvanize many other people. Public writers have a very real “sword of Damocles” to consider every time they broadcast a letter, article, post or tweet.
8) For this reason, I have come to appreciate very much Elizabeth’s concern about polishing the text of my writings to avoid creating unnecessary discord. Originally, I wanted to simply relinquish my writings for very selfish reasons. But I have come to see the wisdom of Elizabeth’s concern and I see that she is right. We must make the additional effort to see that the publishing of the book proceeds with minimal chance to create unnecessary controversy. The purpose for this ‘polishing’ effort is not because I wish to please all. Rather we should make the effort to ensure, as best as we can, that the public words we emit are worthy of being distributed to the general public and worthy of the public’s consideration, evaluation and appreciation.
9) What were my selfish reasons for quickly leaving my writings with Elizabeth’s father? I have not mentioned this before. But, in the proper spirit of ‘full disclosure’, I see that I should let both of you know that deciding to publish my writings was a very difficult decision for me. It is a decision that mediated between my two deepest but conflicting desires: living a calm, normal life as best I can; and helping Women.
10) For most of my life I have preferred to live far from the public arena. Mostly because public knowledge of my peculiar lack of biological aging will necessarily cause social stress, not just for me, but mostly for many others. When I have ventured into the public arena, it has been for a limited time and scope, so I could keep my lack of biological aging a secret from the public. (As both of you know, I considered this choice often enough in Part 2.)
11) In addition, the effects of my lack of biological aging on others make it difficult for me to stay for long periods in any one place. Because as I mentioned above, I am just a Woman. So, as I note at various points in Part 2, I too feel discomfort and pain when I see lovers, close friends or regular acquaintances having difficulty with my biological constancy. I know very well the resulting stress my reality can bring to others as they get older and I biologically do not. And so I prefer not to encourage that stress by keeping my sojourns and physical contact with others limited to a certain period of time. Naturally I try my best to make the breaks as amicable as possible to reduce the normal feelings of loss in others. And quite often, good relationships are maintained through correspondence, which has its own special beauty. But I have seen that it is generally better for everyone if I move away rather than stay in one place for a long time. Moving also helps to give me the space and time I need to process my feelings of loss and rebalance my emotional and spiritual well-being.
12) Then there is my deep, never-ending need to help Women, to help them as best I can within the limits of my existence. Given my points 10 and 11 above, I try to fulfill this need by spending most of my time providing help and care in more personal contexts, such as teaching, nursing, midwifery, counseling, etc. Because ultimately, such closer, face-to-face contact is more beneficial for the recipient. And there is always a need for such service no matter where I go. There are always Women in need of help or assistance. I am more than happy to provide such help because such service is also more satisfying for me. And yes, I can be selfish in that respect also.
13) On those rare occasions when I have gotten close to the public arena to help Women more broadly, it has often been in the form of counseling and providing guidance to others with a far greater force of spirit than me. When I was much younger, millennia ago, I often had such force of spirit. But over the centuries, time has tempered my ideals and I have learned to accept much more easily the frail and deficient characteristics of our common humanity. Such acceptance however dampens the desire to participate. As the elderly can confirm, as you age and the body becomes limited to what it can do, you live more vicariously because you have plenty of memories to bring out the richness of any particular experience, as if you lived it yourself. And so it is better for me to provide guidance and suggestions to others who have the requisite passion of committed action.
14) In addition to helping Women as noted in points 12 and 13, I have also tried to help Women through my writing. As you both know from my texts, my father taught me to write as a young girl. I have never lost the passion to lay down on clay, papyrus, plates, parchment, paper or keyboard, my thoughts and experiences in an effort to try and broadcast to other Women what little I have learned. My hope for my writings has always been that, if I cannot dress Women’s wounds directly, perhaps my words can provide some solace and encouragement. For millennia, I have hoped that someday my thoughts and experiences might be made available to Women everywhere.
15) As both of you know, through a few traumatic events in my life, I have lost most of my older writings to the sands of time. I will not linger on those painful moments here (I reflect on them at length in my papers in Part 2). But you may recall the overwhelming pain I experienced from losing my early “intellectual offspring” that I had invested so much time and effort to produce and care for. After losing my early writings, I was ‘silent’ for many, many years, tending to what little I had managed to save of my early writings while trying to conserve new thoughts and feelings symbolically through gold or copper plate inscriptions or through other techniques.
16) When parchment was invented around 200 BC, I finally had a way to create writings that would be easier to transport and keep secure. I spent some time rewriting what I could remember of my lost writings. I also transferred my left-over clay tablets and fragments, as well as my plate inscriptions, to parchment. And I continued to write about new experiences and thoughts as I lived through these recent centuries and considered the changing condition of Women. I thought especially about young women, who now need much guidance and knowledge to navigate the ever-growing social pressures put upon them, not just from men but also from Women.
17) With parchment, I realized I could make copies of my writings. And so in these past centuries, I have often copied parts of my writings to give away to others, mostly lovers and friends. Parchments also made letter writing much easier to do then on clay, metal or other surfaces. So for many centuries I relied on my own hands to spread my words to others, even though it was piecemeal and in much more personal contexts.
18) With the invention of the printing press five centuries ago, I knew then that I could choose any moment to publish my writings. I realized that I could have my writings reprinted in book form anonymously, to help keep my distance from the public arena. However, I chose to wait a little more for various reasons:
(a) I needed to have some of my writings translated because I was no longer able to remember the details of some of what I had written, especially in the ancient Asian languages. However, I anticipated that there would be an interest in ancient languages as archaeology was becoming a more formalized field of study;
(b) Even more importantly, scientific knowledge kept providing new insights into Mother Nature, which informed my Part 1 essays;
(c) Equally importantly, medical knowledge also kept providing new insights into Mother Nature, which also informed my Part 1 essays;
(d) World literacy rates were rising so more young women would be able to read and understand my writings;
(e) Mass communication was becoming ever more a reality, especially in this past century with mass publishing, mass media, bulletin boards, emails, the internet and finally the World Wide Web;
(f) The world population was exploding, which for some time was a concern of some significance;
(g) Deep social and political changes were happening very quickly in the past two centuries, in some cases resulting in worldwide conflict;
(h) And most significantly, I had again become very attached to my papers.
19) Even when points 18a-18g were relatively resolved late last century and the time seemed most propitious to relinquish my writings, my foolish, possessive love for my papers held me back. My papers give me a connection to my past, by being connected with the memories of where and when I wrote them. I knew that handing off my writings to a publisher would cause me a great sense of loss, similar to the trauma noted in point 15. It is truly a wonder how we can become attached to inanimate things like papers with written words. And yet, my writings are part of my soul. Giving them away is giving away an intimate part of myself. So perhaps it is understandable why I have been reluctant to come forward.
20) Fortunately, the wonderful works Elizabeth’s father was publishing over the years kept reminding me of my ‘obligation’ to help Women. Finally, I decided to contact Samantha’s father, to ascertain the goodness of spirit of both of your fathers, though I already had little doubt your fathers were fine, trustworthy men.
21) Having verified that, I spent a few months further pondering my difficult decision. What finally compelled me to decide to relinquish my papers was the realization that the both of you worked at Elizabeth’s father’s publishing company. This gave me considerable hope that my work would at least be well cared for by ‘the next generation’. And such hope has not been misplaced. In fact, I do not mind to say that meeting Elizabeth and then Elizabeth and Samantha has truly brought tears of relief and joy to me as I reflect on your deep love for my papers. And for this relief and joy, for your deep love of my work, I am eternally grateful, more than you can ever know. So it is I who should thank you for your willingness to carry this effort forward.
22) Even so, it is still not easy for me to pass my papers on to both of you. The advantage of the book format was that my hand-off to Elizabeth’s father was quick and decisive. I knew that after leaving that bag at the doorstep of the cabin of Elizabeth’s father, I could disappear and proceed with my life while processing my grief, working to mend my heart from the pain of giving up my ‘papyrus offspring’. And indeed, it took about a year to come to terms, to some degree, with what I had done.
23) With the online format, I am now forced to revisit my writings and the memories of my papers on an almost daily basis. Thankfully, we are working from the high resolution scans and translations Elizabeth’s father commissioned. And again, many thanks to Elizabeth’s father for that monumental effort and for donating my papers to that cultural institution for proper and safe-keeping. But even though we are working from scans and translations, even seeing scans of my papers and rereading my texts will trigger some grief in me.
24) At first I feared this arrangement would prolong my grief, because I would be constantly reminded of my own foolish possessive attachment to these documents. Our team effort in the online newsletter will necessarily be a long and involved collaboration. I imagine we will be working together for two to three years, or perhaps even more. Because apart from polishing the current work as Elizabeth suggests, there are the odds and ends for Part 4, and perhaps new essay topics that may arise. And there will be the replies to commentary, queries and essay topics offered by others. So rather than letting me complete my grieving process by forgetting, such long term work may keep triggering my memories of negative feelings. And that is not healthy.
25) Thankfully, now I realize that the possibility of Part 4 can significantly diminish my grief, because in Part 4 we are all collaborating to extend the life of this work, along with other members. So from my loss comes a new birth, and this lets me approach the entire effort with a very different frame of mind.
26) In addition, meeting you together and reading your words and feeling up close your enthusiasm has made me realize this is also a work of love for both of you as well. Such a realization puts my heart considerably at ease, because your love of my ideas reflects your deep love of Women- of being Women and wanting to help other Women. And such love warms me immensely and strengthens my spirit considerably. Because rather than dwell on loss, we will all dwell on hope. So let us rejoice in our common kinship and common love for all things Women.
27) For the next two to three years, we might consider ourselves mothers tending to a garden of sunflower ideas, a garden that I started, but that more importantly, the both of you can continue caring for even after I am gone, as noted in my point 11 above. And hopefully as the years continue, perhaps the both of you can pass on such love to your children or grandchildren. Because unlike other discrete works, the value of this work will come from the communication and dialogue it generates. At least, that is my hope.
28) In any event. I am immensely pleased that both of you likely understand my concerns. I am even more pleased that both of you share a strong, innate love for this garden. Your love, more than anything, will help support me as I entrust ‘my papyrus offspring’ to the both of you.
29) I confirm all the details Samantha mentioned in her wonderfully ordered email.
30) Regarding Samantha’s father, I am very sorry that Samantha had concerns about her father’s state of mind. Hopefully such concerns were not too stressful for her. But, as she already knows, her father was a wonderfully good man. In the hours we spent together as he showed me around the town and surrounding forests and nature, he frequently spoke of Samantha’s mother in beautifully poignant terms. He was not one to show much emotion. But it was clear he loved quite deeply, both Samantha’s mother and Samantha. Now that Samantha’s parents are both peacefully at rest, Samantha will likely discover the same strong, deep love she has in herself.
31) Regarding my effect on others, yes, it sometimes happens that I trigger passion in others. I do not know why this happens. I imagine it is biochemical in nature, though it is a mystery why this happens to some but not others. I am sorry for this effect. As you have surmised from the preceding, I do not like to cause stress. We already experience enough stress. But reading Elizabeth’s words, especially her light attitude about this effect, is truly wonderful and helps put my spirit at ease. Thank you!
32) Finally, as a Christmas gift, I would like to offer the both of you a light lunch at my apartment tomorrow or Sunday. I would love to get to know you better since I foresee a close working relationship over the next few years. Please feel free to let me know your availability.
Graciously yours and with infinite thanks: