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Henry was the kind of guy who traveled the world through his flat screen television. No spending thousands of dollars, dealing with flight cancellations and delays, jet lag, etc. He’d experience all the cultures and landscapes of the world every evening from right there on his lumpy comfy couch through a variety of newscasts, films, and his favorite; documentaries.
One such factual narrative had Henry exploring Mount Kailash in Tibet, a spiritual landmark where thousands of pilgrims set foot upon every year, the most devoted of which added their knees, palms, heart, forehead through the disciplined act known as prostration, as they would travel the paths of this precious snow mountain by repeatedly lowering their entire bodies down onto it and back up again. Watching those going up and down in this fashion boggled Henry’s mind, not only for the time involved with this deed but the physical exertion of it as well.
Henry’s first thought was that the practitioners were doing this as a way to gain favor from a higher being, a misconception often reached by those outside of Buddhism. Henry found it interesting to learn that it was actually a practice of self-improvement, to help reduce ego and in so doing providing a more peaceful way of life.
As a person born and raised within an ego-centered culture Henry mentally chuckled when comparing the one on the documentary to his own, knowing that in his society one needed a healthy ego in order to advance, sometimes even an oversized one. His silent chuckle turned into an involuntary laugh when he thought of America’s most successful people doing prostrations. If only.
But what fascinated Henry most about the program was watching those most devoted of pilgrims do their prostrations while others chose to simply walk the path of the great mountain, which was in itself not easy but so drastically different in comparison.
This got Henry to thinking of his own life, of how, no matter how hard he tried he could never seem to get ahead, while others just whizzed by in life from one opportunity to another. He had been at it all his adult life and even much of his adolescence, not only knocking but pounding on doors until knuckles were bruised, bloodied, just for the simple act of advancing. Simple to others obviously, for they seemed to either have their own key or own back door to enter from. So here he had been, doing the equivalent of prostrations all his life while watching those who were able to walk, run, zoom, jet past him for whatever reason, only those with the power to change lives knowing the true reasons behind their choices to do so. Was it connections, charisma, aesthetics? Most likely all of the above and then some, but it wasn’t as if Henry could purchase some guidebook and be In like Flynn or collect enough karma points to finally pass Go and collect what had been due to him for so long. No, having prostrated his way around the block countless times by his now middle-age Henry knew one thing for certain: this culture of the ego centered he was so much a part of was anything but fair.
But something about watching those prostrations on the screen spoke to that inner mysterious part of him known as instinct, telling him that in the end perseverance would win out over all else. That the ol’ tortoise and hare race really did have something to it. That while others were leaving nothing but dust in their tracks he was leaving a legacy of truth and substance.
And so Henry would keep on keeping on, his overnight success he believed would one day still find him having been built with the strongest of foundations: blood, sweat, tears, passion.
He would get there.
He would get there.