A tiny, almost insignificant incident long ago, yet one that I remember as clearly as if it had been this morning; such was the sheer, simple, radiant presence of this extraordinary man.
There have been pages devoted to his death in the press, hours of praise and retrospective reporting in the media. It would be foolish to try to add to them. Except, perhaps, to recall that moment. He had no need to even notice the people driving in the modest sedan alongside his magnificent machine. But he did. He actually saw us.
In all the images I have watched on the television screen, particularly of the later Ali, the one suffering increasingly from the debilities caused by the dreadful Parkinson's disease, I have been most impressed by his simple ability to see others. From the important CBS Sixty Minutes reporter to the little child begging for an autograph, he took the trouble to see his fellow human beings, even when he was no longer able to communicate with them in any conventional way.
I know how important it is to be seen, to be acknowledged as a fellow traveler in this life on Earth. And I know how important it is, too, to see those others whom we too often overlook. In this way we give value to each other's lives.
Simply seeing others, it seems to me, is a true expression of the compassion that is the root value of all Buddhist teaching.
P.S. Curiously, by one of those no-coincidence coincidences, I had bought these reading glasses yesterday at Disney Hall...
A healthy and timely reminder. If you watch for them, the signs you need are always there. You just have to remember to keep watching...