You’d think that at 40licious you’d get more fixed in your beliefs. I think I am becoming more fluid. There are some basics that I know won’t change: I must exercise every day or I will get wonky and fat. I must be my best self and as nice as I possibly can be, in writing and in person, to each being I encounter during my day. I must tell the truth.
But occasionally one must look beyond one’s own moral compass for help. I suppose that’s why there’s the bible, the koran, the watchtower, the tarot, a horoscope, the i ching, the fortune in your cookie. For a decade my mother, a mash up Christian, Catholic, Buddhist, has been feeding me books by the Dalai Lama. And a couple years ago, I started reading “How to Expand Love” when I’d finished the last novel by my bed. It was life-changing as a guide to try and love people who are not particularly kind to you; to see the “diamond” inside everyone. The Dalai Lama’s words on compassion made the difference between us moving forward with our adoption or not, proving that when you act with love — even with someone who is difficult — everyone will win.
Enter the Modigliani.
My mother had asked me to get an appraisal on a piece she’d been given in the 1960s. As I navigated the fine art world to try and find the best way to get a fair deal for my mom, an artist herself on a fixed income living a meager life, I felt badgered by a relative as he criticized every choice I made: handing it over to one of my closest friends, an art dealer, to find an appraiser. The auction house. The contract. The reserve price. The $90,000 estimate from the appraiser at the auctioneer. After some research, it was determined that the drawing is a very, very, good print and is not worth anything.
And then the relative became invested in a theory that while the piece was being appraised, it was switched for a fake, like some Oceans 11 scheme. He brought up distorted versions of past events. All the while I tried to do what the Dalai Lama asked, to be loving, to be compassionate and understanding. To keep boundaries. Even though I felt attacked and that every button that could be pushed got punched.
I want to address the wild misconceptions. I want to punch back with the truth. But this will not help. I don’t know what the Dalai Lama would have me do. How do I be loving but protect myself? How can we move forward without looking back? Today I listed to “My Sweet Lord” in a new way. When George Harrison sings “I really want to know you,” I’m taking it to mean, “I really want to understand what the spiritually correct course is to take at this particular moment.” And when he sings, “it takes so long,” it means, “it takes so long.”