Wednesday, July 30, 2014

The New Gita

“It’s the new Gita!”

A friend of mine from college visited the studio not long ago, the first time we had seen each other in more than thirty years. We passed the time with the usual reminiscences, and as much catching up as we could squeeze into a brief half hour: Me, the doctor-turned-artist, her, the Wall Street financier-turned-mom. After an exciting career in big-city financial markets, she eventually settled on the west coast, dumping the nine-to-five to spend more time with the kids, and teach yoga. We had a nice chat, and suddenly she was on her way again – but not before picking up a copy of my book to read on the plane ride home.

It was only a matter of weeks before we connected again. “I read your book on the plane, the whole entire book, and I loved it!” she was kind enough to say. “I showed it to my yoga instructor, too, and she agreed – it’s the new Gita!”

I blinked, twice, and asked for clarification. Did she mean the Bhagavad Gita, the epic 700-verse scriptural dialogue between prince Arjuna the Hindu god-king Krishna?

Yes, she did. “It’s your story,” she insisted.

No great student of ancient heroic epics, Sanskrit or otherwise, I was still pretty sure that my little book of short stories did not make the cut, not even for purposes of comparison.

“As I recall,” I recalled, “Arjuna tried to walk away from his destiny, to stop doing the thing he was bone-tired of doing (which mostly consisted of killing people in large numbers on the battlefield), and Krishna convinced him to keep at it. That’s really different from what happens in my story. Quite the opposite, in fact.”

“It’s all about the Dharma,” she insisted. “We each have to identify what our purpose is in life, and set about doing it.” According to her telling, I had been an artist all along, and was only temporarily distracted by my interest in medicine. Never mind that it had been a twenty-year diversion. I had recognized the error and corrected it. “The important part is that you are now doing what you were meant to do.”

I really couldn't argue with her logic, or her conclusion. Neither could I find fault with the idea that she would encourage her students to buy my book.

“It’s the new Gita!”

Accurate or not, it makes one heck of a sales pitch.

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