Sunday, October 21, 2007

Lama on the Lawn.

While up the coastline this past weekend, news was brought to my attention that a certain holy monk would be speaking on a hill in the coming days. It was explained to me, as I was walking my bicycle through plagues of sensory-overloaded gapers flocking between photo-ops, that the Dalai Lama was appearing this afternoon inside a structure whose marquee was announcing the imminent performance of some whining indie figurehead. The two of us discussed how it would have been pleasant to witness the religious idol this particular day, but that it would have been hard to have known whether we had the available time following our thirty-mile jaunt around the perimeter of Manhattan a few hours prior. Although the two of us had missed this opportunity, she suggested that I attempt to make it to the West Lawn to witness his acceptance speech of the Congressional Gold Medal. And after the logistics of skipping out on the second half of the coming workday were planned, I seized the chance to do so.

I rushed out of the office after a light shift, and met up with a co-worker at the pizza shop a few stories beneath. He had just settled into a slice of cheese pizza that seemed to be detaching itself from the crust, as I forced open the building’s doors and pressed him to continue his lunch as we rambled towards the red line. The travel was pleasantly uneventful, with simple banter and office politics passing the time until we arrived to our final stop outside the mall. Upon pulling in, we briskly traveled the streets of this political scene, with our brows collecting the sweat contributed by this alarmingly warm October day, to the West Lawn where the recipient was now due to speak. There was a relatively short inspection line, so the two of us were skeptical as to whether or not we had missed the event. I had surely figured the pageantry would have possessed more than enough bells and whistles to prolong the beginning of this acceptance speech past the scheduled time. So as to investigate, I cautiously approached a gentleman masked in shades and clasping an automatic weapon whether the man of the hour had spoken yet. He murmured some inaudible reply with a mouthful of chew, and once asked to repeat said the man had already spoken. When I continued as to inquire the duration of the allocution, he told me something to the effect of thirty minutes or so. A story confirmed by his sidekick who was pensively inspecting the affair with the most handsomest of lip covers. I had a hard time believing the smirk of these true blue heroes and decided to hang around for a bit to see if anything to the contrary would transpire. Co-worker and myself stood outside the fenced boundary watching the festival as it continued with musical performances until we were no longer satisfied with the obstructed view.

We then decided to enter the premise and enjoy the festivities, which after receiving the doubtful outlook seemed little more than going through the motions. Yet it was in the following moment, as our bags were being rifled and scanned that we heard the most glorious of words upon our unworthy ears. The Dalai Lama was to speak in the near future, and he was to be introduced by a speaker collared in power pearls and the legendary Buddhist himself, Edward Lewis (Richard Gere). Such a divine orator could only find the true wisdom in having Billy Flynn (Richard Gere) speak on his behalf, because no situation (no matter how nervous, unpolished of diction, or secretly damning of our Western ideals you may be) exists wherein this particular jackass is going to one-up you with his fleeting celebrity. So upon entering the West Lawn we were no longer entertained by Tibetan nationalists, but instead, by a gloating Golden Globe winner. Doctor T (Richard Gere) spent the proceeding twenty minutes seemingly trivializing the Dalai Lama’s countless accomplishments through his lack of coherency and tangent ranting concerning the plight of Nancy Pelosi to the congressional chambers. But, even the infinite patience of the Gold Medal winner must have even been pressed at this instance, as the verbal disgrace was interrupted by the sudden blasts of percussion by a row of Tibetan Monks lined along the entryway to the congressional building. The time, which was previously described as having passed, had arrived and the fourteenth Dalai Lama was promenading along the elevated platform, past the drums, down the pristine flight of stairs, until finally reaching the immaculate podium. There would be a little more filler by the Speaker of the House and a clerical representative from a South Asian nation, but, alas, the culminating appearance was upon my senses (co-worker left once the man of gerbil lore began uttering squawk). Through eased dignity, the reluctant mahatma shyly deflected the uproarious applause by offering the crowd to ‘hush, hush.’ He then released a pleasant giggle and vacated the stand to accept the medal that he had absentmindedly forgot to have dressed around his neck prior to accepting the deserved gratitude of thousands present. A noticed event, which brought satisfaction to someone cynical towards the accumulation of materialistic wealth that a man could exist so detached from such. Unfortunately, being that he was at the disposal of those frowned upon, he was now donning a visor decorated in the crimson and yellow colors of his wardrobe and, more intentionally, a local sports franchise. However, once this odd display was completed the Dalai Lama arose once again to great appreciation and delivered a concise speech in the Tibetan language that was separated into short breadths for eased English translation to an attentive audience. A political agenda in opposition to China was gently alluded to, as was the positive applications concerning non-violent disapproval, the importance of diplomatic relations between fractured factions, and the selfless meaning of this award to the Tibetan people he is exiled from. A shivering presentation that was inspiring in every aspect, but at times a bit unfulfilling due to the juxtaposition of the altruistic icon and the backdrop of imperialistic power stabled by ivory pillars. There was some hope, I suppose, he would have expressed his beliefs at a complete alleviation free of the surrounding political motives being persuaded upon his indispensable being. No pressure to genuinely thank the bureaucrats, sympathize to those who attempt to nullify his spirit, or play mediator between those two nations. Simply an expression of what is right, and how to live an exemplary life.