Sit in front of a mirror and watch your face for three hours. Do you, dear reader, accept this challenge? What would you see in this time woven tapestry?
Filmmaker, best-selling author, and Zen Buddhist priest Ruth Ozeki tasks herself with this observation experiment to write the initial essay for The Face, a new series of personal non-fiction, each installment written by a different author. In A Time Code, Ozeki alternates between her time-stamped stream of conscious as she looks in the mirror and vignettes of deeper reflection on the subjects that surface while she’s staring at her face. She self-consciously scrutinizes each blemish before being drawn deeper into memories and thoughts about heredity, family, race, culture, aging, identity, and enlightenment.
Her insecurities and fears make her compellingly relatable, in addition to her impatience with her self-mandated experiment. This balances her more unique perspectives on what defines selfdom. Additionally, she meditates on her experiences of being born and growing up in the United States when her face was uncommon, a blend of her Caucasian father and Japanese-American mother. What does it mean to be half and half? She explores the cultural gifts of both sets of ancestors.
This short memoir takes less than three hours to read, but perhaps it may inspire you, dear reader, to not only look at your reflection but also to really see what you can discover.
Sarah Hutchins is an English Instructor and freelance writer and editor in Portland, Oregon. She earned a Masters in Fine Arts in Creative Writing from Antioch University and a Bachelors of Arts in English from Portland State University. Her sagging bookshelves suffer from a peculiar fate: for each book read and removed, three or four magically appear in its stead. The books that find a permanent home on these same shelves are typically classics, French literature, philosophical novels and essays, and magic realism.
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