Photo: His Grace and my grace are two very different things.
The Dalai Lama is in Seattle and online today; if you're expecting a long-winded rant about dirty hippies and my hatred of phrases like 'keeping your heart wide open', think again. I've listened to the Dixie Chicks, I read The Bridges of Madison County, I've watched an Oprah or two in my lifetime; point being, anything that falls off the cheese wagon is something I will consume with girlish glee, and the Dalai Lama is at the top of that wagon.
If you don't know who the Dalai Lama is (because you've been living in the booze-filled trenches of the deep, deep South), let me refresh your memory: the Dalai Lama is like the Oprah of the Tibetan Buddhist monk world. He's like Jesus, except his teachings make sense in real time, and the majority of his fans don't make me sick. He is a Nobel Peace Prize winner, and has been exiled from Tibet since 1959. Even though he has many followers, I still consider him ahead of his time, if only because his type of leadership--peaceful, self-exploring, thoughtful inquiry, joyful--is still an anomaly in this guns-blazing, penis-wielding, conflict-loving world of ours.
I headed on over to http://www.king5.com and clicked on the Live Feed; then poof, there I was, inside of Key Arena, waiting for my life to change. And that's exactly how it happened. The picture was dark at first, with a small beam lighting up the stage--I couldn't make out figures, but I heard, and felt, the audience: 16,000 children and educators, stinking up the arena with their palpable excitement, their occasional shrieks, their unwavering love for this tiny leader in red robes, this interloper, this stranger. Much like Sally Jesse Raphael, the Dalai Lama was sitting in a comfy red chair, like a talk show host, and shook hands with people by holding both of their hands; there are some people who can get away with this, and some who cannot. Be assured that the Dalai Lama can bless you any way he freaking wants to--unlike the Pope, who just half-heartedly waves at you from his bulletproof Popemobile with all the personality of a dried-up Band-Aid (a Band-Aid who seems to hate most people and would persecute gays--I kind of dug the last Pope, but the newest guy is an old, poopy dick). He was very, very still, and listened intently to all of the guest speakers and entertainment. Before he came out, I was skeptical, thinking, 'what is this all about?', as though I had something better to do. Then I realized that I was holding my breath, and flushed from being warm; it was my own nervous anticipation.
The Dalai Lama walked out on stage, and to be totally honest, I cried my face off. Big, fat, droopy tears of confusion and pain and hope and relief; this past month has been a killer for me, and I haven't had any outlet for it except the Esq. So here was my chance. A chance to connect, to be in the same virtual room as this strange world leader, a chance to change my karma and myself. Knowing my dad was there with kids from his high school, and that so many thousands of kids were there for the same reasons--to learn about compassion, the world, themselves, each other--it was overwhelming. The stage was alive with performers and local kids and Seattle 'celebrities' woven seamlessly together. I sat there for a solid hour, immersed within its' loveliness and liveliness. I prepared myself for the Dalai Lama to speak; I pulled up Wordpad and decided to take notes. I felt focused, grounded, light as air. He rose and came to the microphone--the applause was thunderous (literally--it sounded like a veritable storm of appreciation)--and my eyes filled with tears. Teach me about compassion, I thought; turn my luck around, my life, my karma. Fill me with hope for our future, for my son's future; feed me the answers, because I am starving; throw me an oar, because I am sinking. I didn't really think he would send me real answers, but I do find him to be very insightful and forward-thinking, especially when it comes to children and education; at the very least, I thought I might see my dad and his kids in the audience. I sat there with my hardened heart ripped wide open, and waited for his wisdom to wash over me.
That's when the power went out. And everything came back on, except the computers.