The Dalai Lama and the Red and White Cowboy Boots
Lush, green fields lay before me for miles, and I walked. I walked alone with the blue sky above me and a gentle wind pushing me forward. I remember feeling determined, knowing I was headed somewhere but not sure where. My feet were sore, as I’d been walking a long time. I was tired, and I didn’t know where I was going, but I kept moving forward. I walked until I came to a deep ravine and wondered how I would get across it. It stretched for miles, like the Rio Grande River.
“Make your way down then climb up the other side,” said a small, still voice.
“What?! Easy for you to say,” I thought. But I began my descent, carefully because it was so far down, I would have been swallowed up with just one misstep.
Down, down, down, into the ravine I went; it felt like forever.
Finally, I reached the bottom, and it was wet, and there were snakes, spiders, and frogs by my feet. I shivered, and I felt all my fears come. I wanted to get out. “Wait,” I heard. “Wait.”
“How long?” I asked.
Looking up, I wondered “How am I supposed to get back up there?”
Then the voice came again.
So, I climbed up, and as I grabbed the jagged rock, my hands were cut. I wanted to stop because it hurt. But I kept going, despite the pain and I made it back to the top, where the green grasses lay before me. I knew I had further to go. I walked, and as I walked, I looked down at my boots and saw they were muddy and torn and my feet had blisters, and they hurt terribly.
I walked on through the fields, feeling pulled by something but I still wasn’t sure where I was going. The sky was turning purple, dark blue and the light was starting to fade. Dusk. I felt all my ancestors behind me, prompting me to keep going.
Then I heard the music. It was far off, but the sounds of piano and guitar and laughter rippled through the fields. It was the sound of joy. I followed the sound until I saw twinkling lights up ahead, flickering against the black night sky. It was a little cabin, and it seemed like a mirage at first because I had been walking for what seemed like days. My whole body felt alive and tingling.
I heard more laughter and music as I got closer to the place, it was a burlesque/vaudeville show going on.
Finally, I reached the door, and I felt, for the first time in a long time, that everything was ok. The metal doorknob was cold. I felt the excitement and a little fear as I turned the knob. Stepping through the door, I was greeted by a room full of joyful, laughing, smiling people. All eyes were on me. The music stopped abruptly, and two people, the man, and woman on who was performing on stage in red and white striped outfits and black top hats stopped and looked at me. My face flushed and red, scanned the crowd for someone I knew, and a couple in the back of the room waved to me.
“We have a seat for you here, come on,” they said.
I didn’t know them. I didn’t know anyone there, but I felt like I was home.
I went and sat with the man and woman I didn’t know, and the music and the show started back up as if there had been no interruption. The laughter began again, and I joined in.
Suddenly the door opened. Just like when I walked in, the music stopped, the performers stood still, and all eyes were on the man and woman in the doorway. Their creased faces had smiling eyes, and both had long, white hair. They looked tired, and the woman held a big brown box under her arm.
“Welcome!” someone shouted at them. Stepping through the door, the man and woman with the white hair began scanning the crowd, just like I had, looking for someone. They caught my eye and started walking toward me.
I had never seen them before, but they seemed to act as if they knew me. Butterflies danced in my stomach.
When they reached my table, the woman handed me the box.
“It’s from the Dalai Lama,” she said. “He wanted you to have this.”
“Are you sure? I have never met the Dalai Lama,” I told them.
“Yes,” she said. “It’s for you.”
I took the box from her and put it on my lap. “Thank you,” I said.
“Open it. You’ll need these,” the man said.
I opened the box and inside was a pair of red and white cowboy boots.
Hmmm, not my first choice in colors, I thought but, they were from the Dalai Lama. I looked at my feet, and the boots I had on were wrecked from my long journey. A big toe was sticking out, and the sock had a hole it in it. My feet were sore. How grateful I was to have new boots.
How did he know? How did the Dalai Lama know I needed boots?
“Here,” the man handed me a pair of new socks he had taken from his pocket.
“Thank you,” I said.
I put the boots on, and they fit perfectly.
The show ended, and it was time for everyone to go home. I hugged and thanked the couple I sat with and met many other beautiful people that I hugged, and they said they’d be in touch with me. They felt like family.
Opening the door, the pitch-black night, sprinkled with thousands of tiny lights in the sky seemed to call to me, “Time to go again.” I could feel my ancestors with me again. I felt protected.
Looking down at my new boots, I smiled and started walking. I had a long way to go but I but I knew this time where I was headed.