The wake of Kenny-La

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAKenny was the reddest man I have ever known. Pure fire. A burner, of bridges and walls and so much more. He left a wake of creation and destruction, chaos and art.

Kenny was my teacher in so many ways. He taught me about my own anger, my ego, my pride. There were times I genuinely wanted to kill him, but I kind of believed he was unkillable, since by all laws of physics he should already have been dead many times over. He forced me to work with the fire of my own anger, and in that Kenny was right: fire purifies. He taught me about forgiveness. Kenny did not hold a grudge against anyone, his own demons included. The times when I hated him for what he said or did, I had to confront my own monsters eye to eye, forgive them, and move on.

Kenny taught me the virtue of imperfection and impermanence. He did not wait until it was the perfect time, or until he was ready, or until he knew how. When inspiration struck Kenny would act, headlong, at full speed and perfection be damned. I would rage as he left tools out to rust in the rain, untreated wood to warp, pans scorched black, garden eaten by deer, graveyard of crashed vehicles at the bottom of the hill. He left a trail of scorched earth and wrecked relationships. But then, foxglove and dharmsala sprang up in his footsteps. I would seethe, and he would chuckle. An old sawblade hanging from a rafter, a teapot on a stump, a gold-painted bicycle, a rack of flouro green handweights and a chainsaw on the altar. He would build it and watch, giggling, as it crumbled away. Kenny had reverence for nothing and love, for everything.

Kenny’s wabi-sabi wonderland was his great dana, his gift to the world. So many came and found refuge there, and I was just one of them. What will become of Dorje Ling now no one can say. I have fantasies of helping to take it forward, as a steward, or more. But as Kenny-La knew so well, everything crumbles and fades. Dorje Ling was, and Dorje Ling is, and I will forever be grateful for the madness of Kenny-La. Long may his fiery spirit ride.

Gate gate paragate, parasumgate, bodhi, svaha!

<<More about Kenny & Dorje Ling, incl. many photos, at: dorjelingcentre.org>>

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2 Responses to “The wake of Kenny-La”

  1. ojisan Says:

    That…that is lovely, and telling it so well, so fairly and funnily, is proof that you’ve learned from Kenny what you said you learned. Hey Carmen, should I die first, will you write something this good for me? I promise the same for you, and’ll do my best, but you keep your tools sharper : )

    I hope the wabi-sabi wonderland gets to weather and fade through lots more winters and summers –

  2. Roshin Carmen (@CarmenMills) Says:

    Oh yes Ojisan, deal! i absolutely will write your obit if you write mine. I know you are a fine writer even when rusty.

    And I am so pleased to recall that you were visiting Dorje Ling on the day when kenny fell off the balcony (http://bicyclebuddha.org/kennys-fall). Through this experience of Kenny’s passing what has struck me deepest is how many people on the island and beyond really GOT Kenny, in all his paradoxical multi-dimensionality. In fact at his memorial celebration, I was waxing nostalgic about Kenny’s balcony dive with one of the paramedics who tried to talk him out of the bathtub. In a world of crazy snowflakes Kenny was unique in his uniqueness.

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