For all the years that have passed, I cannot deny that my admiration remains undimmed for anyone at any age who takes the first tentative steps to move from intellectual and emotional understanding to experiential fact.
Yesterday, I got a call out of the blue from someone who identified himself as "David." David said he was married with a five-year-old daughter as he moves forward to obtain an advanced college degree in, I think it was, art history. He's taking a crash course over the summer -- a bruising, essay-demanding course that brought him into contact with Buddhism. His teacher suggested David get off his duff and go out and meet some actual-factual Buddhists, sniff the actual-factual winds that might blow through one center or another.
David seemed to be up for the challenge and as a result came across my name on the Internet and picked up the telephone. We chatted amiably for 20 or so minutes. Whether David will ever show up here I haven't got a clue, but I do know that, in the words of the 1970 movie "Little Big Man," "my heart soars like a hawk" when individuals show some willingness to challenge themselves.
What a delicate and uncertain realm -- to risk comforting bias and understanding and step across some undrawn line into I-haven't-got-a-clue-what-I'm-doing. What if it's all bullshit? What if I go nuts? What if I fall down and hurt myself beyond all repair? And yet ....
And yet the challenge stands tall and implacable in the mind -- put up or shut up... sayin' ain't doin'.
Somehow, I want to hug such daring people, tell them they'll be safe even when I know they won't ... I just admire the courage of it all.
Which is not to say I want to get lost and whine on forever about the courage of it all. There are those who think that admiring pats on the back equate with an adequate personal effort. But my admiration and a couple of bucks will get someone a bus ride.
My admiration rises unbidden. It's purely useless, but I enjoy the woo-hoo of feeling it. It's just pleasant to find something admirable ... very pleasant.