A Luminous Halo

"Life is not a series of gig lamps symmetrically arranged; life is a luminous halo, a semi-transparent envelope surrounding us from the beginning of consciousness to the end." --Virginia Woolf

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Location: Springfield, Massachusetts, United States

Smith ’69, Purdue ’75. Anarchist; agnostic. Writer. Steward of the Pascal Emory house, an 1871 Second-Empire Victorian; of Sylvie, a 1974 Mercedes-Benz 450SL; and of Taz, a purebred Cockador who sets the standard for her breed. Happy enough for the present in Massachusetts, but always looking East.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Is Your Mom Hot?

A few years ago, I was living in a little rented rathole with my teenaged son. He had his own room, but not his own computer. I was back in school, so I had turned what was supposed to be the dining room into a study. Two old bookcases, a table I had found by the side of the road, and sitting on it a Compaq Presario purchased from Sears. When I wasn't working or in class, I was in front of that machine. Amir could use it to chat, surf, or play games if I wasn't around.

One day I sat down to the computer and a message for my son popped up on the screen. Amir had left himself signed in. I typed, "this is not amir. this is his mom." Undeterred, the kid attempted to chat with me. I went and got my son, who messaged him back: "i can't chat now. my mom is using the computer." Immediately the message came back, "is your mom hot?"

I was annoyed at the little punk's audacity, as was my son. I demanded to know which of the faceless friends this kid was. Amir was quick to point him out the next time I saw his "crew" assembled. I forgot the kid's name as soon as I heard it...he will forever after, in this family at least, be "that kid who wants to know 'is your mom hot?'"

Today was Mother's Day, and I found this little bag on my computer when I got home, a gift from my older son and his girlfriend. I'll leave the contents to your imagination. Let it suffice to say that I was pleased with the gift. And even more pleased that, whatever anybody else thinks of me, my boys apparently still believe their mom is hot.


Wisdom Compassion Peace

On May 9th, after eight years of preparation, His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama visited Smith College. This was his first visit to Western Massachusetts since 1988. In 1990, the Tibetan resettlement program was initiated and the Northampton-Amherst area designated a resettlement area. Today more than 100 Tibetans live in the area. The Five Colleges, principally Smith and Hampshire, have had a successful exchange program with Tibetan academic institutions in India for fifteen years. Each year during January term, up to fifteen students from Smith and Hampshire go to the village of Sarnath, India for an intensive program of Tibetan studies. Jay Garfield, Doris Silbert Professor of Philosophy at Smith and head of the Tibetan Studies Program, chaired the committee to bring the Dalai Lama to Smith.

The primary event, held in Smith’s Indoor Track and Tennis facility, was for 5,000 members of the Smith and Hampshire campus communities (students, faculty and staff), as well as local Tibetans. The Dalai Lama also met with members of the Five College Buddhist Studies Certificate Program and with the Tibetan Association of Western Massachusetts. Other interested locals had to content themselves with attending live simulcasts or listening to podcasts after the event. The Dalai Lama spoke about the value of education and of the need for compassion or "warm-heartedness" to ensure that our knowledge is not used for destructive purposes.

To welcome the Dalai Lama to the campus, the Tibetan community erected a traditional gold-painted welcome gate through which his limousine passed. Tibetan prayer flags fluttered along the walkways. The College titled his visit "Wisdom Compassion Peace."

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