"Whatever You Seek"
[December 30, 2014]
Shiv slogged through the doors
of Blues Moon, shedding a layer of
cold wet snow as he went.
He dropped the crate of kale
in the kitchen and said, "Here.
Get this shit out of my sight.
The bus broke down six blocks
from here and I hiked all the way
back with it. You're welcome."
"Bad day?" Luci asked him
as Shiv squelched back to
the main floor of the club.
Shiv repeated the story about
the kale and the motherfucking bus.
"So now I'm cold, wet, late for lunch,
and my arms feel like they are
about to fall off," he finished.
The holidays always made him
feel lonely and miserable anyway,
and this year had been even more
of a roller-coaster than usual.
"Aiya! I know how you feel,
little brother," Luci said. "After
that whole mess with my family,
some days, I just want to shove
my entire collection of ShaLaLand
into the DVD player and lie on
the couch for a week."
"What's a ... shaland?"
Shiv asked, frowning.
"A television show," Luci said.
"ShaLaLand is Bhutanese anime.
It's been running since 2009, so
there's quite a lot of it by now."
"Ooo, marathon!" Gray said,
coming up beside them. "Shiv,
why don't you grab an energy bar
and then go take a hot shower.
Luci and I will meet you up at
your place in half an hour,
and we'll bring real lunch."
Relieved of the decision,
Shiv said, "Sure," and
headed for the stairs.
A snack and a shower went
a long way toward making him
feel halfway human again.
Shiv threw on a pair of
gray workout pants and
a gray sweatshirt that read,
Please don't make me do stuff.
He was tidying up the living room
when Luci arrived with bowls of ramen
topped with poached eggs, fish cakes,
green onions, and tiny thin mushrooms.
Shiv's mouth flooded instantly.
Then Gray showed up with
a platter of sausage rolls that
looked like little roses and
a thermos of hot chocolate.
"So the thing about Bhutan
is that they're the country
who launched the principle
of Gross National Happiness,"
Luci said as she put in the DVD.
"ShaLaLand is a show about
how to become happier."
Shiv rolled his eyes.
"Sounds like therapy."
"I promise it's more fun
than therapy," Luci said.
They all piled onto the futon,
and Shiv applied himself to
the food. The soup was hot
and savory, the sausage rolls
flaky and spicy, so good.
A child's voice began
to sing, high and sweet,
in a language that Shiv
English subtitles flowed
over the bottom of the screen.
"I fucking hate subtitles!" he griped.
"Wait for the next verse, Shiv-ya,
they alternate," Luci said. "This is
Bhutanese anime, but it's made
for an international audience."
The song went on, now
with the words in English.
Whatever you seek,
You can find --
A smile or tears
In your mind!
Shiv had heard
that before, and
he didn't buy it.
Too many people had
said it was all in his head
when he was hungry, bruised,
or otherwise physically miserable.
The art was beautiful though,
stylized like a cartoon but based
on the swirling shapes of
Bhutanese religious art.
The characters were ridiculous --
the old priest Sangay Tsering,
Tinley Kesang the grandmother
who talked about enlightenment,
Milarepa the magical poet,
the boy Karma Chime who led
the children, and his friend
Pema the gardener --
all of them too happy.
None of it was plausible,
and Shiv said so.
"Be patient," Luci said.
"At least wait until Dorji Tashi
shows up. If you still don't like it
after meeting him, then we can
just watch something else."
"Okay," Shiv said.
He was not expecting
the dragon Nawang Druk
to come roaring up out of
the rocks and open a portal.
Then Dorji Tashi stumbled through,
an orphan boy from the city who wore
rags and complained about everything.
Shiv had to chuckle at his antics.
Maybe the show wasn't so bad after all.
When Karma Chime explained that Dorji Tashi
had been brought over to ShaLaLand to learn
the skills of happiness and take them home
to teach his people, Shiv almost gave up.
But then Pema started talking about flowers
and how appreciating beautiful things
can make you feel happier inside.
The art focused on one type of flower
at a time, slowly zooming in close
to show the structure of it.
Shiv recognized clematis,
and lilies from an art book he
had found on drawing flowers.
There was something that might
have been an orchid, and one
that looked like a blue poppy.
The pink lotus opened up with
more petals than Shiv could count,
and Dorji Tashi reached for it
only to fall into the pond.
Startled, Shiv burst out laughing.
Dorji Tashi climbed onto the edge
of the pond and wrung out his clothes.
He didn't throw a tantrum, though,
just sighed over the mishap.
Pema explained that the lotus
only grew in mud, stretching up
above the water in order to bloom.
Enlightenment was all about rising
above the roots of suffering to find
happiness in the present moment.
Shiv wasn't sure about enlightenment,
but he did like looking at pictures of flowers.
After Nawang Druk opened the portal again,
Dorji Tashi went home and planted a garden
with seeds he had gathered in ShaLaLand.
"That was cool," Gray said, stretching.
"Shiv, what did you think?" Luci asked
as she picked up the empty bowls.
"It was ... interesting, once I got into it,"
Shiv admitted. "Some of the ideas
are silly, but I do like the art."
"Enough to go again?" Luci said.
"Yeah, but I want to try something first,"
Shiv said, heading into the kitchen.
Luci and Gray followed him there.
"What are you thinking?" Gray said.
Shiv brought out vanilla yogurt
and a couple kinds of granola and
some freeze-dried fruit powders.
"The colors got me thinking that
it would be fun to make a dessert
with rainbow layers," Shiv said as he
blobbed yogurt into different bowls.
Then he stirred in the fruit powders.
He didn't have all of the colors,
but he had enough to come close.
Neither did he have fancy dessert cups,
but he could put layers in drinking glasses
and that would look sort of the same.
The blueberry turned purple, plum was red,
raspberry made pink, and passionfruit was yellow.
Looking at the bright colors through the glass
made Shiv smile. It reminded him of wildflowers
draped in different colors on the side of a hill.
He handed out glasses to Gray and Luci.
"That's beautiful," Gray said, then
dipped a spoon into his. "Also delicious."
Luci just made wordless noises of
pleasure and wiggled in her seat.
Shiv took his back into the living room,
so Gray and Luci both tagged along.
"Next episode?" he said, flopping on the futon.
"Sure, I'll turn it on," Luci said. She fiddled
with the player. "I'm glad you like the show."
"It's maybe growing on me a little,"
Shiv said, picking up his hot chocolate.
"Yeah, I like the idea that whatever you seek,
you can find inside your own head," Gray said.
The inside of Shiv's head was a mess,
but there was no need to say that
out loud and spoil the cozy mood.
Shiv sipped the hot chocolate. It made
a great contrast to the cool, sweet yogurt.
"Gray, is this clinical-grade chocolate?"
"Of course," Gray said. "I wouldn't use
anything less for cheering up my friends."
With things like this, Shiv was starting
to believe that he actually had friends now.
Smiling, he curled up on the futon with
his yogurt in one hand and hot chocolate
in the other. Gray and Luci snuggled
on either side of him, murmuring happily.
Shiv realized he wasn't cold anymore.
* * *
"Gawa rang gi zon go zo; choem rang gi choen go choel."
Whatever joy you seek, it can be achieved by yourself; whatever misery you seek, it can be found by yourself. (state of your mind).
-- Bhutan Proverbs
Bhutan is the country that invented Gross National Happiness. Tracking this has proven much more popular in Terramagne than here.
Happiness has a long history in Buddhism. Watch a presentation about happiness. Follow some practices for nurturing happiness. Here is a meditation for happiness and confidence.
Happiness skills come in many kinds. Explore exercises for happiness, positive psychology, self-awareness, gratitude, success, and joy. Science indicates that these things make people happier.
Shangri-La is a fictional paradise. Shambhala is a mystical kingdom hidden in the mountains, called Shangri-La in some texts.
ShaLaLand premiered on July 18, 2009 in Terramagne-Bhutan.
Bhutanese orphans face numerous hardships. Many are too poor to attend school, even when it's free.
Bhutanese names mix and match a core list of spiritual terms. Here are some characters from the show ...
Dorji Tashi -- the hero, an orphan boy
Dorji means "indestructability." Tashi means "good luck."
Jampa -- a boy known for lovingkindness
Jampa means "kindness, benevolence."
Karma Chime -- the leader of the children in ShaLaLand, a young lama boy
Karma means "action, deed." Chime means "immortality."
Milarepa -- a middle-aged man who teaches children, a magician and a poet
Milarepa means "magician, poet."
Nawang Druk -- the guardian of ShaLaLand, a dragon
Nawang comes from from Tibetan ངག (ngag) meaning "speech, voice" combined with དབང (dbang) meaning "power, control, force." Druk means "thunder dragon."
Pema -- a girl who loves flowers and other plants
Pema means "lotus."
Sangay Tsering -- an old man admired by everyone in ShaLaLand, a priest
Sangay comes from Tibetan སེང་གེ (seng ge) meaning "lion." Also means the Buddha. Tsering means "long life."
Sherab Wangmo -- a middle-aged woman, a librarian and storyteller
Sherab comes from from Tibetan ཤེས་རབ་ (shes rab) meaning "wisdom," from ཤེས (shes) meaning "to know, to understand." Wangmo comes from Tibetan དབང་མོ (dbang mo) meaning "queen, lady," derived from དབང (dbang) meaning "power, control, force" and མོ (mo) meaning "female."
Yonten Drolma -- a teen girl who teaches the appreciation of good things in life
Yonten means "good qualities." Drolma means "ready to assist."
Bhutanese art customarily has spiritual themes with a distinctive stylized look.
Many Bhutanese wildflowers have becoming landscaping plants elsewhere in the world.
See Shiv's Please Don't Make Me Do Stuff sweatshirt.
Buster Hump's Gym sells these workout pants in packages of five for $50, which is a significant discount from the already cheap retail price of $13.96/each. They sell t-shirts the same way, so you can get a work week's worth of athletic outfits for $100.
Instant ramen can be upgraded with various toppings. Luci knows all kinds of tricks with this, and has tailored her choices to her current audience.
Gray brings Sausage Rolls and French Hot Chocolate made with clinical-grade chocolate.
Freeze-dried fruit makes good food coloring. Nuts.com, Sydney Essential, and Fresh As have various flavors.
You can use different flavors of yogurt to make a Rainbow Yogurt Parfait.