Bhutan conjures up for me images of a verdant “Shangri-La” where everyone lives a fantasy existence of joy and bliss.  So, when Hay House sent me the book, “Married to Bhutan:  How One Woman Got Lost, Said ‘I Do,’ and Found Bliss” by Linda Leaming, I thought I would finally find out what the “secret” is – the secret to happiness.  After all, Bhutan is a country that measures its success, not in “Gross National Product”, but  in “Gross National Happiness.”

As I got into the book and realized that Ms. Leaming is an American who grew up in Nashville, Tennessee  — and wound up going to Bhutan, falling in love –  first with the country –  then with a Bhutanese man, getting married, and living there ever since, I felt my resistance rise up.  How could someone leave everything they’ve ever known — their family, their friends, their LIFE! – to travel halfway round the world to a tiny, remote country – one with no luxuries as we know them – nay, few necessities as we require them here — and choose to live, work, and love in Bhutan forevermore?

Even as I write these paragraphs, I realize what a paradox it is to be fascinated by – and yearn for – a place that promises happiness; and, at the same time, be resistant to the idea that the ideal of happiness is something for which we would WANT to give up everything else.  In this country, we want it all — and, we rarely get it all.

It’s a metaphor for life that I believe warrants reflection for each one of us.

We want to be happy.  AND – we don’t seem to be willing to give up our “already-always” life to have that – we are attached to our struggling, our scarcity, our suffering.   We, in the West, think that success and money and things will bring us happiness.  We are, more often than not, surprised when they don’t.

Linda Leaming is not advocating that everyone move to Bhutan, or even that that would be desirable.  What she seems to be saying is, life is beautiful whatever way it is.  Further, it is the acceptance of that which allows for bliss in a way that a life crowded with “things” does not.  What she does say is, “We all need a little Bhutan in our lives.” I read that as joy in simple things, happiness in that life is a gift.  Bliss arises when we allow it the space to enter in.

I loved this paragraph:  “I was responding to that genuineness, that quality of life when you strip it down to the basics.  Happiness can’t be willed.  You have to get in the right situation and then let it come to you.  I learned this by living in Bhutan.”

It is a disconnect for me as she describes accepting things the way they are.   For example, I don’t like to be wet – going out on a rainy day is anathema to me.  I’d rather reschedule my appointments and remain cozy and dry in my apartment.  In contrast, here is her vivid description of the monsoon season:  “During this time, you can forget about being dry.  Everything – trees, dirt, clothing, food, books, beds – swells with wetness.  Throw a moist shirt in the corner and in a few hours it sprouts little black spots of mildew that never wash out.  Showering is redundant.”    Yet, her last line in that description is one of lush beauty:  “Everything is green, puffed-up, animated, and ripe.”  In spite of the rain, she and her husband, Namgay, sit outside in the early morning and drink coffee, watching the earth swell with wetness and the river flowing by – she calls it “River TV.”  

This is not “Desperate Housewives.”

She describes the beauty – and she describes the harshness – with equal fervor.  Death is a constant in Bhutan. Yet, the Buddhist belief in reincarnation allows for the acceptance even of death – “It’s OK, we’ll work it out in our next life.”  She is forthcoming about her Western angst in contrast to her husband’s Buddhist transcendence.  A story about a dead baby caught in the river elicits Namgay’s spiritual response to her fretting:  “Sometimes they come back and live for a year or two, then they die.  They’re just finishing out the samsara.”  What a peaceful contrast to what would be the Western response that any early death is a tragedy.  I found comfort in that.

The theme that runs all through this book is the importance of presence in life.  Ms. Leaming points out that “sometimes in the silence there are answers.”  Her choice to become a mother after much anxiety hit home for me, as I am one who worries about getting it right: “There is no power in not seeing and in not being aware.  Try to get out of yourself and overcome your ego.  You might be a good mother.  You might not.  What good does it do to ask that question?”  She vowed to become the “best half-assed mother I could possibly be.”  Yep – me, too!  Context is everything!  I am so relieved that I don’t have to be perfect.

“Married to Bhutan” is a study in contrasts.  Contrasts in ways of life, ways of thinking, ways of being.  It’s clear that Ms. Leaming is not assigning right or wrong, just pointing out differences.  And pointing out the impact of those differences on our lives and in our thoughts – isn’t that where happiness lives?   In our thoughts?

Yes, differences worthy of reflection…

If what you want is bliss.

Deliciously yours in the Enlightenment of it All,  Linda

“Acceptance is so much a part of being in love, and love can make a person exceptional.”  Linda Leaming, “Married to Bhutan:  How One Woman Got Lost, Said ‘I Do,’ and Found Bliss.”

This is Linda Leaming, author of “Married to Bhutan:  How One Woman Got Lost, Said ‘I Do,’ and Found Bliss.  Her work has appeared in Ladies Home Journal, Mandala Magazine, The Guardian U.K. and many other publications.  She received an M.F.A. in fiction from the University of Arizona.  She lives in Bhutan with her husband, Phurba Namgay, a Bhutanese thangka painter.

And, here is the link to the book at Hay House Publishing:

http://click.linksynergy.com/fs-bin/click?id=JZjyJRjtyzs&offerid=206928.10000086&type=4

And, here is Linda Leaming and me with Diane Ray on Hay House Radio:

<a href=""Hay“><a href=”"Hay“><a href=”http://click.linksynergy.com/fs-bin/click?id=JZjyJRjtyzs&offerid=206928.10000046&type=4&subid=0″><IMG alt=”Hay House, Inc. 125×125″ border=”0″ src=”http://affiliate.hayhouse.com/Event/ICDITampa125x125.jpg”></a><IMG border=”0″ width=”1″ height=”1″ src=”http://ad.linksynergy.com/fs-bin/show?id=JZjyJRjtyzs&bids=206928.10000046&type=4&subid=0″&gt;

Disclosure:  I received Linda Leaming’s book, “Married to Bhutan:  How One Woman got Lost, Said ‘I Do,’ and Found Bliss” for free from Hay House Publishing.

© Linda Ruocco and “Spiritual Chocolate”, 2011. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Linda Ruocco and ”Spiritual Chocolate”  with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.  Thank you.

 

 

 

 

HotValentineChocolateIt’s Springtime…. and Love is in the air…!  It’s actually ALWAYS in the air,   but we aren’t ever-present to it… It’s nice when we can really listen and hear the message that it’s there, it’s alive, and it’s for everyone….

My friend, Janey, was walking in Soho the other day – and she couldn’t help but hear a couple talking behind her… mostly the man…

Man: “I love you so much, I just want everyone to know…!”

Janey heard sounds of giggling and kissing….

Man: “I want to rent a store down here and put a sign in the window so everyone can see it, ‘I love my wife so much!’”

More smooching noises….

Janey couldn’t contain herself anymore.  She turned around and said to them, “I didn’t mean to be nosy, but I couldn’t help but overhear you and I just want you to know what a wonderful thing that was for me to hear on the street today… There should be more conversations like that in the world every day!”

That conversation lit up Janey’s day… When she told me about it, it lit up my day as well….

It’s amazing what love can do…

It made me think of how we can be present to love in all its astounding revelations…   I remembered something that happened a few months ago that made me realize how much I would like to have true love in my own life…

I watch late night talk shows – my favorites are David Letterman and, right after him, Craig Ferguson.   To me, Craig is the “thinking man’s late night talk show host” – he’s incredibly funny AND there have been times when he has also been eloquent and serious — often about his own sobriety and who he’ll make fun of and who he won’t… I like that kind of integrity in my funny men…

Once, Craig had a show with guest Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Nobel Peace Prize laureate, which lifted my spirits and made me smile for days afterwards… I laughed right along with how jocular and playful he was – I had always thought of Father Tutu as so serious before that night… It was lovely to see him interact with Craig in such a light-hearted way…

And…

For a very long time, I must have been holding it that there was this little “late night singles” thing going on here…   David Letterman only recently married his girlfriend of 23 years and with whom he has a five-year-old son, and Craig wasn’t married and never spoke of a girlfriend or about his personal romantic life at all….

And, of course, me…

In December, Craig’s mother died. He opened his show that night with the caveat that it would not be “comedy as usual” – that night was devoted to his mother and that’s what he would be talking about…

I was drawn, mesmerized, by stories of his mother and the funeral and the beautiful piece that he read from Victor Hugo’s “Toilers of the Sea” and how he finally ended the show with his mother’s favorite song – a song that he admitted was awful,  a calypso version of “Rivers of Babylon” by Boney M,   but that was her favorite song and that’s how we were going out that night….

And, yes, it IS a dreadful song….

I sat there with tears in my eyes as I listened to it….

Craig’s obvious grief stayed with me over the next few days… I found myself offering up my prayers for him… “Please take care of him, God… he seems so alone….”

After New Year’s, Craig returned from vacation – I knew it was vacation because it was two weeks of reruns – and the first image on the screen at the beginning of the show was Craig’s left hand – WITH A WEDDING RING ON HIS THIRD FINGER!

Yes!  Craig Ferguson had gotten married!   This show was upbeat and happy and full of possibility and joy!  He spoke of his new wife, Megan, and showed pictures of his wedding… a gorgeous picture at night in the snow in Vermont… Craig in a kilt (and joking about THAT all night, how the cold Vermont air and the deep snow took it’s toll on his traditional kilt-wearing…) and Megan in a white princess coat and muff…

I was so happy for him… sitting alone on my white couch in my living room….

At the end of each show, Craig puts his feet up on the desk and usually does a little “bit” on “What did we learn on the show tonight, Craig?”   That night, it was cute and sweet and about his wife and how he loves her and how he can’t flirt anymore on the show… “but if we ever get George Clooney on this stage, all bets are off…”

He ended it with…

“Put the kettle up, Megan, I’ll soon be home…”

I was suddenly moved…. what he said and the way he said it was so intimate and loving and …

I knew that I wanted that for myself…

Perhaps soon, one of you will be walking up the street and you’ll hear a couple behind you talking and giggling and smooching… and the man will be saying, “I always wanted to love a little red-haired girl like the one in Charlie Brown and now I have you…. “

And, you’ll turn around… and I’ll wink at you…

Deliciously yours in the Joy of it All, Linda

A few people have written to me  requesting the piece  from “Toilers of the Sea” that Craig Ferguson read on his show to celebrate his mother’s death.  I didn’t put it here because this was mean to be a happy story; however, it is a beautiful passage and so I offer it here for you:

“I am standing upon that fore shore.  A ship at my side spreads her white sails to the morning breeze and starts for the blue ocean.  She’s an object of beauty and strength, and I stand and watch her until at length she hangs as a speck of white cloud just where the sea and sky come down to mingle with each other. 

Then, someone at my side says, “There, she’s gone.”  “Gone where?”  Gone from my sight, that’s all. 

She is just as large in mast and spar and hull as ever she was when she left my sight, just as able to bear her load of living freight to the place of her destination. 

Her diminished size is in me, not in her.  And, just at that moment, when someone at  MY side says, “There, she’s gone,” there are other eyes watching her coming and other voices ready to take up the glad shout,  ‘Here she comes!’ 

…and that is dying.”              

 From, “The Toilers of the Sea,” by Victor Hugo

 © Linda Ruocco and “Spiritual Chocolate”, 2009. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Linda Ruocco and “Spritiual Chocolate”  with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.  Thank you.

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