Well, that was interesting. I just spent the past few weeks as a “Compassion Ambassador Concierge,” offering customer service to major sponsors of the Seeds of Compassion.
This was a truly unique event. It spanned five days and engaged children, parents, care-givers, teachers, curriculum developers, scientists, policy-makers, politicians, business people, philanthropists, religious leaders, and others in the event’s goal of instilling compassion in young kids.
I had decided a few months ago that service would be a priority for me this year, and I had just started reading the Dalai Lama’s “An Open Heart,” so it was a no-brainer to commit to a few weeks of part-time work for the event (it actually turned out to be more like full-time, but no worries at all about that).
You’d think that shaking hands with the Dalai Lama would have to be the big highlight of the event, but, no, that wasn’t it. More interesting to me was discovering that the lovely Seeds of Compassion lotus-blossom-and-heart logo was designed by a Rat City Rollergirl. The only sticker I had ever put on my car to this point was the Rat City Rollergirls logo. I had grabbed a Seeds of Compassion sticker during a folder-assembly project and had vague ideas of putting it somewhere on my car. I couldn’t imagine how those two symbols could ever go together. Then at a wrap party for the event Tuesday night I met Amy Redmond of the Wong Doody agency. She is both a “fresh meat” jammer for Grave Danger of the Rat City Rollergirls and the graphic designer who created the Seeds of Compassion logo.
Shaking Hands with the Dalai Lama
Sunday morning I was helping out at a thank-you breakfast for sponsors of the event. I and a couple of other concierges and staff were standing off to the side near the door through which the Dalai Lama would enter. After a long wait, he arrived in a sleek black limo. I watched through the window as he walked up the sidewalk, seemingly oblivious to all of the security and police surrounding him. I noticed that he was wearing comfortable-looking brown shoes and that his legs were externally rotated (I can’t help but analyze any interesting gait), I assume due to his many hours of sitting cross-legged while meditating. Something on the sidewalk caught his eye, and he stopped for a few seconds to look at whatever it was with child-like curiosity. The next thing I knew he swept through the door. Instead of going up the steps to where all the VIPs were waiting to hear him talk, he walked over to our little row of volunteers and greeted each of us. I had been briefed on how to address him, and I had the presence of mind to say something like, “It’s a great pleasure to meet you, Your Holiness.” And that was it. He went up the stairs and delivered a nice talk. Touching him and being in his presence was, well, it just was. No clouds parted. No great wisdom was imparted. I didn’t get all fuzzy-headed. Time didn’t stand still. It was just me and another human being greeting each other. He insisted all weekend that he’s just a human being like anyone else, and that was definitely how I perceived him.