Updated: Aug 1, 2021
“ Later this same night I would hold them gently in my hands, as a curly haired boy no more than 20 years old dragged himself across the local temple floor in front of me in absolute devotion."
My Mill Valley hotel room was on the top floor, with a deck that pushed out into the trees, a stream passing below, water falling down the hillside. This is the deck where, for the next two days, I would chant to the rising sun for the first time ever. I had repeated my new call 540 times that day, starting on the plane, pulling at the tulsi wood beads with curiosity and excitement. Later this same night I would hold them gently in my hands, as a curly haired boy no more than 20 years old dragged himself across the local temple floor in front of me in absolute devotion. The two of us shared the full attention of the glowing altar together, my 49 years of cynicism replaced by a mysterious new innocence. He picked up a mridanga and began to create a rhythm with the drum, then added his soft voice. He sang his verse, never looking at me, but moving closer to my side. I took a deep breath, and opened my mouth, wondering if anything would come out. “Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna,..” I sang back to him by myself, for the first time ever outside of my own room. I sang for the beautiful blue boy with the flute who welcomed me into his home. I sang for Om, who couldn’t be there with me. I sang for this kid with a drum, who shared his loving moment with a total stranger. And I sang for myself, knowing the rest of a life that had been filled with so much pain would never be the same.