Buddhist In Monaco?

I’m not sure if I’m a Buddhist.

I sit. I meditate. I consistently work on being in the moment. I have a deep wonder for the world. I’m grateful to have been taught how to develop (and continue to develop) a spiritual life and view of the world that was born out of the crucible of deep deep pain.

I’ve expierenced surrender and despair during my simple meditation practice (sit, breathe, allow thoughts/feelings to come up and out, for a set set of time) and all during the day. Joy and release. Boredom and fear. And the whirlwind of emotions (and thoughts!) that I continue to observe, and be attached to, and enjoy, and fear and revel in, and be tormented by and let go of are the same ones that many Buddhist teachings address.

But I’m still not sure I’m a Buddhist.

because…

I also absolutely LOVE writing about the glamour, and excess, and the celebrity, and the over-the-top-ness and the super yachts and the exclusiveness of Monaco. I love it all. And the curious thing I’ve found (and this is only my opinion!) is that the over-the-top materiality of Monaco is not necessarily diametrically opposed to living a spiritual life. I know you may think I’m crazy or bending over backwards to justify people indulging in all sorts of stuff that most people can’t afford. But I’m not.

Monaco is many things. And the way it swirls beauty and harshness, soulful people and crass materialism together during the Monaco Yacht Show has attracted me like a moth to a flame every September.

 

But, I’ve always known my understanding will always be incomplete until I experience the sheer magnitude of the Monaco Grand Prix  in person. But, since my reservations at the Fairmont Monte Carlo are all in order. Interviews and lunches and drinks with old friends are confirmed. I’m fully vaccinated. I’ve had both a PCR and rapid Covid test in the last 24 hours! After a year of being grounded at home for longer than any period of my adult life. I’m blasting out of lockdown and back out into the world at an event that lots of you have told me are on your bucket lists. That’s all going to change this weekend. All I need to do is check in for my flight to Barcelona. I’m not flying directly to Nice because as I learned as a result of all of my inside knowledge of the travel industry, France has tougher travel restrictions that Spain.

“What is the reason for your trip to Barcelona?” says the extremely intimidating KLM ticket agent?

Wait, what?

“The EU is not accepting US visitors,” she says in accented English, “except for special circumstances. What is is the reason for your trip to Barcelona?”

“Um, work?” I say with a smile that I hope will soften Helga’s attitude toward me a bit.

Oh oh.

“Do you have proof?” she asks as she looks over the top of her glasses.

“Yes. Yes. Of course I have proof.” I say sheepishly showing weakness that comes from being totally blindsided by an international administrative airline operative that, after suffering through a year of global pandemic-induced red-tape, has truly seen it all.

“I’m a journalist,” I say forcing an even bigger smile as I pull up my latest Forbes story on my phone.

“No.” she says. “That’s not proof. And journalism is not a good enough reason.”

Wait, what?

“I’m sorry,” she says with some honest compassion. “We can’t let you on this flight. I’m sorry.”

And that’s when I realized I may be a Buddhist (sort of) after all. I didn’t get upset. I didn’t feel any self-pity or shame or even disappointment, really. I simply accepted that I wasn’t getting on that flight with a surprising amount of equanimity. And the only thing that really made me sad was that I wasn’t going to be able to provide the behind-the-scenes view for all the people who were hoping to see the Monaco GP through my eyes–and stories and social media posts–after all. I’ve come to learn that being able to share the stories of my adventures in ways that might entertain, inspire or help brighten someones day is more important to me than actually being able to do all the wondrous things I get to do.

But, I did all I could to make it possible to be in Monaco this weekend but, circumstances, and governments, and extremely intimidating KLM ticket agents that are way beyond my control said otherwise.

Being at the 2021 Monaco Grand Prix wasn’t meant to be. And I’m totally cool with that–sort of.

Bit please do stay tuned as I’m off to my beloved Bahamas next Tuesday. And I can guarantee I’ll be there for that. And you’ll want to be there too!

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  1. says: Michael Tamulaites

    Well that’s a bummer. My vicarious life has taken a hit in concert with the master of over the top. Dang.

    Next year?