While celebrating Festival International, my family inherited a Buddhist monk.
To explain, he and I have met before. He’s a dear man from Nepal. A friend was hosting him around Festival where he had spoken at an event.
Our unexpected group walked around town to a couple of stages before settling at the one near the courthouse in a small patch of very wet grass. Our friend, who had been hosting the monk, was called away for volunteer duties. So he stayed with us.
Background on how we Festival: My family hates to lug chairs, but I believe doing so is worth the hassle. Per normal, I was the only one in my family who had brought a chair.
About 30 minutes in, I realized the monk needed a chair. So, I did what you do when a monk wants to sit and gave him my chair. He explained that he had a friend coming to meet him soon.
My family and friends moved away from us a bit, standing closer to the stage to have a better view. The music was too loud to have a conversation. After a while, I got tired and found a tiny patch of wood against a makeshift hurricane fence and sat.
I had not expected to go to Festival International and find myself sitting basically alone, leaning against a hurricane fence, looking at wet grass. But that’s where I was and what I was doing. In retrospect, I realize that only because a Buddhist monk was involved, I decided that I might as well embrace the moment — rather than find somewhere better to be. You just don’t scurry with a Buddhist monk.
The sun was beginning to set, but I could still see clovers growing in the grass. Looking at the clovers made me remember how when I was a little girl during school recess, I was the queen of making clover necklaces and crowns. I had a secret method that my friends couldn’t master because their fingernails were too short. Since I was there, I decided to try my hand at making a clover crown again — and on a tiny patch of dry in the midst of wet grass near the Buddhist monk on a chair listening to Feufollet, I realized that making a clover crown takes more concentration than I remembered.
I began my efforts just to pass the time, but thinking about nothing but how to make the most out of a short-stemmed clover or how to tie it just right became a zen-like experience. I spend most of my life thinking about what I consider to be fairly complex issues and problems. Sitting there, I had decided to be exactly where I was — something I clearly don’t do enough.
Generally speaking, my life is full of interesting people, places and events, but as strange as this may seem, that hour I spent combing the grass for clovers and carefully putting together an ornamental clover crown was the most relaxed and happy I had been in a long time. It took the universe sending a Buddhist monk for me to get the message that I need to scurry less and be where I am more.
My husband and family returned and wondered if we could move on, but the monk’s friend had still not arrived. My husband joked that I would have forced anyone else out of my chair, but I was too afraid of 10 years of bad karma for kicking a Buddhist monk off my perch. I am not proud to admit that my husband is correct.
What if I treated everybody as if they were Buddhist monks? Just imagine the difference.
We ended up waiting for his friend for a while. I just made more clover jewelry. Whether it was the sheer proximity of the monk or something else, the zen vibe was spreading. When I finally got up, I was in better spirits than I’ve been in a long time. Chasing fun doesn’t lead to happiness. Treating others with respect and being where you are does.