bird_grouseDriving into town, slung from one muddied rut to another, the steering wheel, like a wild horse, barely led by hands and mind, a voice on the radio announces the Dalai Lama’s decision to resign his role as the political representative of the Tibetan people.

The moderator urges listeners to call in and share what the Dalai Lama means to us, and I muse silently about what I would say were I to call in (an action not possible in reality, as there is no cell phone coverage between the center of Adamant and Morse Farm).

Before words or thoughts can gather, tears fill my eyes and my chest becomes too small to contain the answer to the moderator’s question. Sadness and gratitude, fullness and loss. Awareness of his and my mortality. Gratitude for all this man has given, with an integrity, a lightness of being, a depth of understanding, that makes it possible for someone like me, as rutted and muddied as this Vermont spring road, to know that it is possible to break free, to become…enlightened. Not some rarified state of bliss, not the escaping of being human, of neuroses, of the inheritance of this all too difficult melding of reptile, cat and frontal cortex…three universes that miraculously manage to allow us to walk, breathe and be, and yet have, like Vermont’s communications systems, some serious connectivity issues, but the liberation of seeing, feeling and tasting ourselves as who we truly are. Of awakening. Of inhabiting ourselves fully.

Two grouse pause in the middle of the road, blink their eyes at me, and as we regard each other I experience the utter emptiness of mind that so many of us long to inhabit — the respite from figuring out, planning, worrying, shoring up, remembering, wishing. The essence of grouseness, it comes naturally to them. After a minute’s paralysis, something only a grouse could understand (if they understood anything) prompts them to move, and they zoom across the remaining space like Wiley Coyote. I laugh out loud, and proceed on my very human way.

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