From Chris Lemig's blog The Narrow Way. Check out his introductory column on his travels and quest through India here.
I’m back in the States for a few weeks before heading back to India in June. I’m tooling around Colorado, visiting friends, sneaking up on them when they least expect it.
I just popped in to see an old friend of mine at the Tibetan imports shop in Colorado Springs. He’s from Nepal and has been practicing Buddhism his whole life. All I can say is, it shows.
The shop is slow this time of year. There are no customers and we spend a half hour catching up under the silent gaze of Buddha statues and Himalayan ritual masks. I feel like I haven’t left north India at all.
A woman comes to the door and I think, “Oh good! A customer for my friend.”
But she’s not here to buy anything. She wants to return a candle holder she bought a few days ago.
“I’m sorry,” my friend says. “I told you when you bought this that we can’t accept returns, only exchanges.”
The woman goes on the attack. She’s not having any of that. The customer, after all, is always right.
I stand nonchanlantly next to a display case, pretending that I’m shopping for trinkets. I’m replaying the scenes in my mind from 12 years in the restaurant business. I imagine being in my friend’s shoes. The blood rushes to my face as I feel embarrassment for the woman making the scene and sympathy for my friend. I remember the salty, metallic taste of biting my tongue, holding back a self-righteous stream of profanity that would put the unruly customer in her place. Then I imagine putting on my best fake smile and politely, if not unwillingly, giving her money back.
Chris Lemig spent twenty-three years of his life in the dark closet of addiction and self-hatred. After coming out as being gay in 2007, he discovered the teachings of the Buddha and never looked back. He is deeply concerned with issues relating to the mental and spiritual wellbeing of modern culture and is looking for ways to bring happiness and contentment back into our lives. Chris is currently on a yearlong sabbatical in India where he is studying Buddhism and Tibetan language. He writes about his experiences and the practical applications of the Buddhadharma on his blog, The Narrow Way.