There once was a student of an old Zen master in a fishing village.
One day, the ships were coming in and the master pointed to one and said, “That ship! What is its name!”
The student laughed and replied, “Sensei, it’s written right on the side! It’s name is ‘Cherry Blossom'”.
The master just smiled.
A few months later, after a hard season of fishing, most of the ships had their decking replaced. As the ships came in, the master pointed to the one with ‘Cherry Blossom’ on its hull and asked, “That ship, is it the same ship as before?”
His student laughed and said, “Sensei, of course it’s the same ship. They just fixed it up a bit.” But he didn’t look quite as sure of himself.
A few months later, there was a terrible hurricane, and many of the ships had their masts and rigging completely replaced. As they were departing for their first day of fishing after the storm, the master pointed to the ship which still had ‘Cherry Blossom’ painted on its side. “That ship,” he said with a smile, “is it the same as last year?”
His student looked around and laughed nervously. “Well, Sensei… yes. It is. Most of it has been replaced, but it has the same spirit, the same hull.” But the master just smiled and nodded.
Almost a year later, a pirate gang took up residence in the coves near the village for a season, and many of the ships were damaged by cannonfire. After having most of their hulls replaced while the governor dealt with the pirates, they were at last setting sail.
The student groaned inwardly, already anticipating his master’s question. With a glint in his eye, the master pointed and said, “Is that ‘Cherry Blossom’ the same as before?”
The student looked at the ship for a long time, until it drifted out of sight. Then he sat in meditation for a long time still. At last he said, “Yes. I believe it is the same. It bears the same name, after all.”
The master just smiled and nodded.
Several weeks later, the master summoned his apprentice to the wharf. He showed him a boat, freshly painted, with the name ‘Autumn Willow’ on the side.
“Take as long as you like,” said the master. “And tell me, where is the ‘Cherry Blossom’ now?”
And the student was opened to revelation.
This is ultimately about the game Glitch, a wonderful, absurd, impossible game that somehow existed anyway, albeit for a very short time. But Glitch was made out of parts and people from many places, and it brought them together in many new ways. These friendships will continue… but they will find new, other ways to express themselves. We will all look slightly wistful anytime someone who never played it mentions a ‘glitch’ in their game, and we will all nod knowingly when someone says something about Tii or Zille or Friendly…
They were, and they will always be, in our memories. But their going makes room for something else.
I find it somewhat fitting that my series of prayers will end with ‘Friendly’.