Dueling Lecturers: Willie Nelson & the Dalai Lama

What do Willie Nelson and the Dalai Lama must do with February 2024? This has been one of many hardest months on file, personally. The 12 months of the Dragon got here in respiratory hearth and smoke all around the individuals I like. I gained’t go into element, however simply know that it has one thing to do with the state of our world, my getting older mother and father (and the way a lot I dislike that inescapable fact), and my daughter being initiated into maturity abruptly by means of the tragic lack of an expensive good friend. I simply spent every week with Mother and it has me fascinated with different octogenarians who assist me get by means of robust instances, specifically the Dalai Lama and Willie Nelson.

At 88 and 90 years outdated respectively, they’re dwelling legends. The Dalai Lama embodies happiness, regardless of being exiled from his nation for over 70 years. He misplaced his household, his homeland, and most of his tradition, but he insists that he’ll reside to be 100 as a result of he nonetheless needs to assist others discover pleasure. In the meantime, Willie is celebrating the discharge of his 74th solo studio album. He’s nonetheless performing reside; he’ll play 18 exhibits this spring and switch 91 whereas on the highway. He’s survived a collapsed lung, emphysema, and dropping nearly everybody he’s ever performed music with on stage. However this morning I wakened anxious. What if we lose him and the Dalai Lama in the identical 12 months? How will I am going on? 

With Willie, It Was Love at First Hear

Willie’s voice singing “Whiskey River” on my present Sunday morning playlist takes me straight to childhood highway journeys, first within the household station wagon, then later within the van, with our eight-track cassette participant sporting the tape skinny on At all times on My Thoughts and Waylon and Willie. Dad would miss freeway exits to our vacation spot as a result of we have been all too busy singing, “On the Street Once more,” or “Mammas Don’t Let Your Infants Develop As much as be Cowboys.” Willie is the rationale I wore a bandanna over my hair and ripped blue denims for too a few years. He sings of affection and loss, dust roads and dirt-filled bars. He’s the charming insurgent who has all the time remained true to himself. 

Willie brings hippies and rednecks collectively, as if all of them arrived at the back of the identical pick-up truck. I bear in mind when Kurt and I noticed him reside at Merlefest Bluegrass Pageant in North Carolina in 2000. We have been in a sea of strangers and but all of us put our arms round each other and sang, “Seven Spanish Angels.” I danced my approach so near the stage that I might see how yellow his tooth have been, however when Willie appeared proper at me and blew me a kiss, I knew I used to be his eternally. I knew he beloved “Set off,” his Martin guitar that he’s had for 1,000,000 years, his tour bus, “The Honeysuckle Rose,” his youngsters, his 4 wives, and his horses, and at that second, I knew he beloved me, too.

Now, after I’m scuffling with life’s challenges, I flip to poetry. Subsequent, I take heed to Willie’s nation songs and bear in mind what he teaches me: to carry life evenly, comply with my instinct, write down my tales, and face adversity with big-hearted boldness.

Assembly the Dalai Lama

In the meantime, the Dalai Lama is my final religious instructor. I’ve by no means heard him preach faith, solely kindness. He has provided me classes on learn how to endure struggling ever since I first encountered him as a dumb faculty child. 

Throughout a convention at my college on “Spirit and Nature” in 1990, I used to be invited to be a tour information for one of many keynote audio system. I’m embarrassed to say that after I accepted the function, I had no thought what Tibet was, and went on the lookout for somebody named “Dolly” to point out across the campus. When I discovered his entourage, the cloud of monks in saffron-and-wine robes parted and a brief, older man in glasses stepped ahead. He gave me a large smile that made his cheeks spherical like apples. I didn’t know who this man was, however when he touched his brow to mine in greeting, I noticed and felt intense white gentle wrapped throughout him, and me.

I found that His Holiness laughs constantly, as if he shares an inside joke with life. He’s additionally endlessly curious and has a factor for wristwatches. He requested to see my low cost digital Timex and giggled as he used the stopwatch function whereas we ate lunch. I all the time assumed that religious leaders have been reserved and severe. However right here was the Dalai Lama enjoying with my watch like a toddler, laughing heartily, and consuming like a ravenous retiree at a free all-you-can-eat buffet. I needed to know extra about this “Dolly” one who walked in a forcefield of sunshine. I ended up touring to Tibet in my twenties to know the place he got here from and the way I, too, might domesticate happiness. I’ve appeared to him for inspiration ever since. 

The Dalai Lama teaches me to be curious, chuckle simply and infrequently, to be a drive for unity, and to take a look at affected by each potential angle till I discover a hidden treasure in it. Most of all, he jogs my memory that the antidote to ache is serving others. He says, “Happiness just isn’t one thing ready-made. It comes from your personal actions… I’m going to profit others as a lot as I can. Love and compassion are requirements, not luxuries.”

That is, after all, not nearly Willie and the Dalai Lama. It is usually about my mother and pop and the way they’re nonetheless educating me to seek out one thing to chuckle about, study, and sit up for each single day. “Preserve going,” every of my octogenarian guides appear to be telling me. You’re not alone. Each house holds somebody who has struggled, or who’s struggling now.  There may be knowledge to be born in us by means of struggling that couldn’t occur in some other approach. Simply preserve going.



photograph credit score: “Dalai lama” Webted, cc. 2.0.

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