with apologies to the dalai lama

when i started this blog, i did it with this intention (as explained on the about page): “there’s so much to write about if i stop being afraid.” i didn’t just mean the grumbling about divorce as i’ve done in some of the poetry; i also meant clarity about the good things, as i’ve done here and here recently.

mostly i meant being honest about everything — even when it’s less than flattering.

for example, i’m not sure i can tell my dalai lama story without making myself look bad (petty, vindictive, etc.), but i also happen to think it makes me quite human. you see, after i left, one of the uncharacteristic things my husband did was begin quoting the dalai lama. over two decades, my husband had never shown me a spiritual, peaceful, one-with-the-universe, kindness-toward-all bone in his body. that he suddenly connected with the dalai lama became a big joke to me (especially during periods of, shall we say, spitefulness toward me).

i doubted his sincerity. thought he might be trying to score with a chick. i decided there were two possibilities: he was faking it or he hadn’t been letting me into his inner world all those years. (a best friend of mine even remarked that if he’d been all along the person he made himself out to be in the months after the separation, we wouldn’t have been separating.)

of course, there was at least one more possibility: he simply found comfort from a new source. i’d left him in an unenviable, prickly place. how could i blame him for reaching for anything he found that made sense to him? well, i did. i’m not proud of it, but over the last 10 months, i’ve been known to say, “fuck the dalai lama.”

now, no hate mail, please. i don’t mean any disrespect toward the dalai lama. in fact, of the two of us, i was far more likely to lean into something like buddhist philosophy. my off-color phrase has nothing to do with the dalai lama and everything to do with disgust with my ex. my flippant remark was my knee-jerk reaction to believing my ex was full of shit, a retaliation against something he was doing that made no sense to me. i was pissed not just on my own account, but (i thought) on behalf of the dalai lama. surely, he didn’t want his words to be misused by someone who didn’t really mean them and certainly wasn’t practicing them.

in reality, it wasn’t any of my business, of course. but i haven’t been able to let it go. in fact, recently i came up with the idea to get a book written by the dalai lama and turn it into a disturbing piece of art by beating the crap out of it or shredding it. destruction as art’s not really original, but i didn’t care. it was going to be therapeutic. it was going to say something. if he could misappropriate the dalai lama’s words, i was going to take it one step further. i was going to use the text to mock his usage.

well, the universe had something else in mind, as it often does. last weekend while at dove & hudson used books with jillypoet, i finished gathering up the poetry books i wanted, and i wandered over to the eastern philosophy section to grab the raw material for my art project — a text by the dalai lama. i grabbed the spine of the first book i saw with his name on it and pulled it off the shelf. can you guess what book it was?

healing anger.

are you kidding me? there’s no getting away from that message from the universe is there?

and so i conversed with it: dear dalai lama’s text on anger — on healing anger — you’re coming home with me, and you are going to make your way into a project. an art project, maybe. a poetry project, perhaps. but i’ll read you first. is that what you want? you’re going to have to get in line behind natalie goldberg’s long quiet highway, but i’ll let you skip the rest of the line. ok? now quit grinning at me. really. stop it.

14 thoughts on “with apologies to the dalai lama

  1. Yeah, the universe likes to slap us upside the head(s). Through books, especially.

    At least it can be pretty funny. I think it’s awesome that you told this story. I’ll be interested to hear how you like the book, too.

  2. Research has shown that mindfulness can promote psychological well-being. It is not based on the idea of religion, but of evaluating one’s self and being present in the moment. Many researchers have found if you get a person to focus on the present and not the past or future then it may lead them to a life of happiness and well-being. What I think your ex was trying to do when he was quoting the Dalai Lama was finding words of wisdom that would assist him in finding well-being by getting him to focus on the present moment and not the past (which could not be changed). Knowing you both I can safely say that you were both trying to find a way to cope with the turmoil in your lives. Just as you found solace in your poetry he found solace in mindfulness practice. We all seek happiness and comfort in different ways and I think that it is important to respect the individual’s method of finding that happiness. I believe that your choices have made you better people. SO remember don’t focus on the past, live in the present. If you can let go of your baggage from the past you will find that your journey towards “being in the present moment” is not weighed down by things that don’t matter anymore. Healing anger!

    • oh, i know & embrace all of what you say, A. i even admit in my post, “how could i blame him for seeking comfort?” the rest of the post is confession of those evil thoughts that we all have.

      i’m glad you’re here reading. i hope it has as much to do with interest in my well-being as it does with defending his. i don’t *really* begrudge him any comfort or happiness, you know. but emotions are complex & i’m not afraid to admit them even when they aren’t pretty. me grumbling about the dalai lama’s in the same vein as him despising my poetry outlets. shit happens & then, yes, we move on. but those stories can be important. from this one, i ended up with a book called healing anger. pretty cool.

  3. Pingback: fun stats for the low traffic post-divorce, pro-poetry, love-letters-to-downtown-albany blog | good universe next door

  4. Pingback: a poem about taking a break from romance (or damn, winter can be cold) | good universe next door

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