Wednesday, January 10, 2018

The Visit

It’s not every day that a holy man appears at my door,
but of course it’s a day when I haven’t cleaned the dog crap in the front yard.
He didn’t seem to mind, though.
Smiled at the dogs when they peeked their heads out the door.
Giza, wagging her tail furiously like she was greeting an old friend.
Anubis, more cautious, as usual.
I was annoyed at first,
thinking he was there to try to persuade me
to switch my utility company
or subscribe to the Daily Herald
or vote for a candidate for state representative.

“Yes?” I asked, trying to be polite.
“Can I help you?”
“I am here to help you,” he replied.
“I am the 12th reincarnation of the Panchen Lama,
just second to the Dalai Lama.”
“Oh, wow,” I replied.
Then we were silent for a moment.
“Um, well, I have a church already,” I explained.

“That’s not why I’m here,” he said.
“I flew directly here from India, my home in exile.
I had a dream two nights ago that troubled me,
and you were in it.”
I stepped out onto the porch,
closing the storm door behind me.
If Matt woke up, he would ask me what this was all about,
and I would have a very hard time explaining.
I faced this elderly Asian man
with his kind, smiling eyes, bald head,
and wire-rimmed glasses.
I guess I believed him,
but it was kind of weird that he was wearing jeans
and a Steely Dan t-shirt.

“So what was the dream about?” I asked.

“I saw you sitting on your couch,
your hope extinguished.”
“And?” I asked.
“And that’s it,” he replied with a grave expression.
“Well, I appreciate you coming out all this way,
but that’s kind of an everyday occurrence with me.
And surely there are people are who are in greater need than I am.”
“It is not for me to choose whom to advise,”
he warned.  “This dream was given to me,
and we must solve your problem.”

I furrowed my brow.
I probably should have been more curious
about how exactly he found me on the other side
of the world, but at that moment, I wanted to
achieve some kind of resolution
and finish watching a documentary on Netflix.

“I could try journaling, maybe?” I suggested timorously.
“Or see a therapist?  Or increase my Lexapro dose?
I’ve been a bit down lately.”
“No,” he replied.  “Your answer lies at the top of Chhogori,
the mountain known as K2.  Go to the top, and you will cleanse
your soul.”
“Holy shit,” I replied, “I would totally die.”
“Well,” he said, “Then maybe try the journaling. You have
something inside you that needs to be freed.”

I didn’t know that I needed the 12th incarnation of the Panchen Lama
to travel thousands of miles to tell me that,
but I thanked him for his time.
Assured him I would update my resume
and maybe do some volunteering.
I invited him inside, offered him tea and cookies,
but he declined.
He was meeting some local Buddhist monks
at Lou Malnati’s for deep dish pizza.

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