When I was a young man I was poor and I was a straight A student and I was a nerd but popular, too, by the end of high school in that green state, and I loved writing and had big dreams and deeply cared about the problems of our world and, in typical youthful idealism, thought perhaps I could help in some way.
Now I’m older and not much has changed—only I’m more humble, not because of any increased virtue on my part but because I’ve been humbled, and repeatedly. Not so much by defeats but by the repeated reminders of my own fallibility and mankind’s lack of interest in fixing things. We’d rather be right than help.
Ah I’ve had some great successes, too—I did write books, they did sell well, they did inspire others, I started a company, I am no longer poor, my company is going strong 22 years in, I am well liked in my community and I like my community, well, too.
And, too, in terms of growing up….well the Buddha Dharma soaked through me when I was younger and I still practice meditation (steadily) and study (a little) today and I’d rather enjoy a good cup of coffee and conversation or a book in the hot tub or holding hands on a first date at the ballet or bike through Paris fast for half an hour or smoosh the face of my pup Winfield…than be a billionaire or a famous jerk. As the ancient Chinese aphorism goes, I care not for ruling the world, I care only for a good cup of tea.
Or, as Pema Chodron/Trungpa Rinpoche put it:
“Hold the sadness and pain of samsara in your heart
and at the same time the power and vision of the Great Eastern Sun.
Then the warrior can make a proper cup of tea.”
In other words, be tender. Be brave enough to be open about being sad. Let it rain. But be bold enough to be sunshine, too. Be cheerful, laugh and help others to laugh, be forward-looking and fundamentally positive, deep down, where the shallow pulls of spiritual bypassing bullshit positivity can’t reach.
And the fruition of a life well-lived? It may be in this moment, right here.
And, if you can keep your head about you, my favorite poem.