Though I am probably too old to feel this way, I continue to find it neverendingly magical that you can get on a plane in one place, and when you get off, you are someplace completely different. For us, this experience in wonderment inducement has played itself out three times in a single month, once to Northern California, once to Arizona, and most recently, well…here we go.
We arrive at our luxurious hotel in the Kahala district south of Honolulu on the Hawaiian island of Oahu. As we step into the lobby, we immediately notice the red carpet and the velvet rope leading to the check-in counter.
Somebody big is staying at our hotel. I immediately rule out us.
Pulling an icon name out of a hat, though certain they were not allowed to tell, I ask the check-in lady,
“Does their name rhyme with McShmartny?”
I was wrong on both counts. The name did not rhyme with McShmartny. And they were allowed to tell.
The big shot staying at our hotel was the Dalai Lama.
The first thought that came to mind was,
“I thought he was poor.”
My second thought was to ask him to help me with my meditation.
“My mind wanders. Does that happen to you?”
My third thought – with the assistance of another member of our party – was to imagine a Curb Your Enthusiasm episode in which Larry David is playing golf with the Dalai Lama, and the Dalai catches Larry kicking his ball out of the “rough”, which, for those of you unfamiliar with golf, is cheating.
When the Dalai calls him on illegally moving the ball, Larry insists it was not he, but a passing squirrel who had nudged the ball into the more playable position, after which it scurried into the underbrush. It was not a kick. It was a nudge.
This blatant falsehood, and Larry’s adamant refusal to back down, leads the Dalai Lama, a man internationally famous for his equanimity and repose, to totally “lose it”, throwing an enormous fit captured on i-Phones and catapulted around the world, obliterating his reputation, and drying up his funding.
Who else but Larry David could make the Dalai Lama lose his temper?
My third-and-a-half thought – a revisiting of the previous premise – was for Larry David to catch the Dalai Lama cheating at golf, forcing Larry into the moral dilemma of either “outing” a universally revered figure, or unfairly losing the match to a Tibetan holy man “who is not quite what he appears to be.”
Just something to do during the extended process of checking in.
To connect with his audience, the Dalai Lama does not hesitate to dip into material that, at least in my days in television, the networks’ Standards and Practices Department would have summarily rejected as tasteless and unacceptable.
When asked at a televised gathering whether it is true that he is always smiling, the Dalai Lama replied, “When I am in bathroom, I am still smiling.” He then paused for effect, before adding, “Sometimes, it’s difficult to come out. You need some kind of little pressure. Then no smiling.”
I can’t imagine Moses doing a joke like that. Can you?
Even my daughter Anna fell under the spell of the Dalai Lama’s powerful influence. When she lost her room key, she explained it, not in terms of a mental misstep, but, in a tribute to the Dalai’s teachings, “wanting to relieve myself of my earthly possessions.”
Consistent with my record of being the “This close” guy – I was recently “this close” to witnessing the outcome of a sensational British murder trial, but instead left early – I was “velvet rope close” to seeing the Dalai Lama.
On two occasions, I was informed that the Dalai Lama would be coming out, and I waited to see him (and experience a, hopefully, life altering encounter). On both occasions, I was told that, for security reasons, the Dalai had slipped out through a side door and disappeared into a waiting town car.
For a man who believes in Fate, the guy sure doesn’t take any chances.
I get a call from the lobby, where Dr. M, Rachel and baby Milo are about to set off on their morning walk.
“The Dalai Lama is leaving. Do you want to hurry over and see him go?”
“No, that’s okay, ” I reply. And I hang up.
I missed my last chance to see one of the holiest men walking the face of the earth. I was meditating. I imagine he would have understood.
Later, when I go to the lobby, I see them rolling up the red carpet.
The Dalai Lama has left the building.
I sit on a couch, and breath in what is left of his aura.
It was a thrill sharing living space with the Dalai Lama, though I never saw him at the beach, the buffet dinner, or the gym. My respect for his mission – though he does seem to favor exotic locales, rather than, say, spreading peace and love in the Yukon – compels me to allot him a special post all to himself.
The non-Dalai highlights tomorrow.