Friday, October 19, 2007

People With a Passion

It's always a wonderful experience to be with people with a common passion. This thought prompted by my having stumbled across "Word Play" on public television last night--a documentary about crossword puzzlers. The New York Times crossword happens to be a small addiction of my own, one that I share, I now discover, with such notables as Jon Stewart, Ken Burns, Bill Clinton and countless others. "Word Play" centers around the annual tournament in Stamford, Connecticut, hosted by NYT crossword editor Will Shortz, where puzzlers of all stripes gather to vie for the championship. The competition is intense. My own humble efforts pale beside these folks, who complete the simple, early-week puzzles in seconds flat, and the progressively harder puzzles toward the end of the week in minutes. Amazing to watch them.

The crossword puzzle, though, is just a pretext for this study of people with a passion, and for the community in which they thrive. Even though they meet only once a year in this fashion, their hearts seem to beat as one. There's a mutual admiration, a bond, even, yes, a kind of love that unites this vastly diverse bunch of human beings. What's extraordinary is how they are all leveled--rich, poor, lawyers, doctors, students, secretaries, scientists, musicians... you get the sense that their differences mean nothing in this context, where their common humanity simply surges to the fore.

I think we bloggers are like that. It has come to be the thing I value most about this peculiar, near-daily obsession of mine. It's done in private, but the sense of community is increasingly powerful. (A propos, Cardozo is in the process of editing a new installment of "The Buddha Diaires Recommends," and I hope to have that posted early next week.) I know not a single one of you out there in person, but I come to recognize your voice, your vision, and there's a particular joy in finding common cause.

"Word Play" put me in mind of the first "YearlyKos" conference I attended a couple of years ago in Las Vegas, where a thousand progressive liberal bloggers gathered to meet not only each other, most for the first time in person, but also a good number of the Democratic Party leaders who had just begun to understand something of the power of the blogosphere. Barbara Boxer was there, and Harry Reid, Bill Richardson, Wesley Clark, and several other potential presidential contenders. I myself was working on my first blog at the time, "The Bush Diairies," and had just published a book version, "The Real Bush Diaries." It was a thrill to find myself amongst so many "of my own kind," all passionate about their politics and a little tipsy on their effects of their growing influence.

So this entry is just a way of saying thank you to those who blog and those who read the blogs and those who add their comments to the blogs they read. It's a joy to feel your presence out there and to sense that this small circle of Buddhists, near-Buddhists, and those attracted to Buddhism by its simple humanity, is making its own contribution to the conscience and consciousness it will take to save the planet that we share.


thailandchani said...

Thank you, too! :)

I'm looking forward to Cardozo's recommendation. New blogs are always good!



carly said...

P AND khengsiong: I agree with yesterday's entry by K. There must be in Buddhist practice an equivalent to a teaching by Lao Tzu, which says, "favor and grace are both sources of anxiety." It is hard to imagine in any culture today, someone not accepting public praise. Often it means money in the bank or power of some kind. But LT warns that to accept praise of any kind is just as bad as being disgraced. For at that point the praiseworthy deed turns into its opposite, causes anxiety, and the sage should leave fame to others. Surely this is similiar to Buddha's call to ignore his legacy. In that light, your Lama did the wrong thing.

carly said...

Yes, it is a wonderful documentary. Lee too does the LA and NY Times puzzles, and loved the film.