For the first time in my life, I had yak meat for dinner. It was a birthday present to myself yesterday. Who knows if it was yak meat or not, but I was delighted to do something I had never done before. At my age, first's are pretty rare in the ordinary sense.
The meat was chewy and undistinguished by flavor. Nothing as distinct as lamb or venison. I like to think it was yak -- it was billed that way -- but the plain fact is it might well have been a lesser cut of beef or moose... or even the left rear leg of Champ, the aging golden retriever that lives around the corner. The meat was cooked with zucchini, red peppers, mushrooms and a bit of ginger ... all served in the white-bread way that restaurants in this town which is sometimes praised for its restaurants make their money. I had hoped for something to really love or hate -- a really unusual taste that made me yum or puke -- but I was happy to settle for a first.
Yak meat. Imagine that. After I finished some of what the Tibetan restaurant gave me, I was a bit sorry to have contributed to the death of a hapless yak. Not sorry enough to raise some meatless banner, but sorry nonetheless. I was grateful for sustenance but, well, I could easily have had some spaghetti and foregone this I-have-eaten-yak-meat medal on my chest.
At the Zen monastery I once flunked out of, the diet was vegetarian. And on the first run I made to town for supplies with another resident, both of us wolfed down deliciously greasy hamburgers washed down with sinfully sweet chocolate mild shakes. Talk about Nirvana! Tibetan Buddhists always struck me as more level-headed ... eating meat when meat was offered, eating vegetables when that was provided.
Eat, pay attention, be grateful ... that sounds about right to me.
Sometimes I think my entire interest in spiritual life is best summed up by the old joke about the nun who, while hammering a nail in order to hang a picture, whacked her thumb. "Damn!" she exploded. And then ruefully, "Shit! I just said 'damn'!" "Oh hell! I just said 'shit'!" "Jesus Christ! I just said 'hell'!" And finally, "What the fuck -- I never wanted to be a nun anyway!"