Okay, check another one off my list. I saw – and heard – the Dalai Lama myself. Live and in person. When I learned back in the summer that he was coming to Atlanta, I jumped on the laptop and bought two tickets – good tickets! – knowing that this was my chance!
What I did NOT know then was that he would arrive just days after my dad died. Yes, after one too many calls to the EMTs and one stay too many in ICU, my sweet daddy just couldn’t bounce back one more time. It was, in many ways, as peaceful a parting as we could have wished. But all the same, it left me with a huge, gaping hole in my life that found me suddenly subject to what I call ‘unexpected waves of non-specific sadness.’ Along with many a tear rolling down my cheek.
So, it seemed only fitting that the Universe had supplied this world renown leader bringing his wisdom and peaceful presence into my very own city, just when I needed it most. Along with 4,000 others who quietly attended, I listened… hard. I remembered to breathe. I even took notes. What did I learn? What wisdom did he share? Was I able, as my brother asked, to text him the meaning of life?
Well, not exactly.
My takeaway at that moment from the experience was simply this: ‘In the journey we call life,’ His Holiness said. ‘It is good to make plans; explore options; examine all possibilities. But when you start your journey, you must keep putting one step in front of the other.’
WOW. Like the old song, I asked myself: ‘Is that all there is?’ But then – and later with further reflection – the truly profound nature of this simple comment really struck me. Yes, we can plan and scheme and hope and dream all we want. Make lists and map out routes, too. But ultimately, life – and death – happens. It’s the cycle. It’s nature. It’s the journey.
So the next time I find myself feeling a little ‘lost’, missing my dad on the other end of the line, or just having a bad time, I’ll call to mind the words I heard that day, simple but profound, and just keep putting one foot in front of the other. Who knows where I’ll end up?