PAGE 3
Step 4: Push your luck.

About a week after Randy left me, my friend Owen took me to see Joan Baez. Owen's got connections, and we were ushered straight to two seats in the first row. "About eight years ago," Joan said early in the evening, "I decided I was going to stop doing anything that didn't feel good." She looked beautiful, strong, and independent, out there singing song after song by lesser known writers, always careful to say their names at least three times. She sang a different song by Dar Williams. Go ahead, push your luck, the song begins, find out how much love the world can hold.

It was another intriguing idea. I had always suspected there was much more than enough love for everyone, free-floating out there in the universe or attached to things but attached loosely, renewable love resources where anyone whose batteries were low could plug in and juice up.

There is always a lot of love, for instance, at the Whole Foods Market—tomatoes in four colors, peppers in six, brussels sprouts in their little green mesh bags, fresh hunks of ahi and king salmon, all the happy little bins of organic grains. There is young Clinton, recent Naropa Institute graduate, exotic dancer, and checkout man. He knows almost everything about Eastern religion, is always happy to see me coming through the line. There is John, the butcher, who chooses the best Buffalo rib eyes for me, sends bones to my wolfhounds. There's love at the car wash, love in the park, love at the Tattered Cover, love in the backcountry, love at the PetsMart. There's probably even love at Neiman Marcus if you can afford it, probably even love at the mall.

Dar's song goes on, Once upon a time I had control and reined my soul in tight.

I thought, What if there was a way to drop those reins, to open myself to receive all the love that was out there? What if every time love was offered to me I opened my arms and sucked it all in?

It has been proven to me over and over that the world, on the whole, is pretty crazy about me and that individual men, after a certain time, are not. I wondered, If I could put 100 percent Pam out there for the world to experience, could I get 100 percent of what I needed back?

Step 5: Count on your friends and their hit men.

And in addition to all that free-floating love, of course, are the immeasurably huge amounts of it that are attached to and available from my friends.

Gail drove back to the ranch with me, helped me take down the pictures and box up the remains, gave all Randy's forgotten dress pants to her handyman. Nerissa sent me a camel from Disneyland. James offered the services of his hit-men buddies, should I wake up one morning and find myself really mad. Jane and Kevin promised to come for Christmas and did, all our plans for sightseeing turning into ranch chores, an entire cord of wood cut to stove size, the fence fixed, a cement slab poured for the horse trough, three tons of hay thrown down from the loft.

Step 6: If at all possible, get yourself to a small Himalayan Buddhist kingdom.

About two weeks into singledom, I booked a trip to Tibet. There's something in my brain that moves from heartbreak straight to the desire to be around Buddhists, the real ones, the ones who still wear the robes.

There's nothing like watching a sky burial, watching a hundred big, reeking vultures devour an entire corpse in three or four minutes, to make you realize how quickly things change. There's nothing like sitting in a natural hot spring at 15,000 feet in the pitch dark with a bunch of giggling Tibetan nuns making animal noises at you to make you realize your life is pretty good even if your fiancé did walk out on you. There's nothing like seeing Chairman Mao's face stamped like a brand on the wall of a tenth-century Buddhist monastery to make you realize that nothing—nothing—that is ever going to happen to you in your life would even register on the world scale of bad.

And then there are the Tibetans themselves, with their beautiful round faces and their impeccable manners and their innate generosity. I opened my arms and sucked every bit of it in.

Steps 7 and 8: Measure in increments other than time—and be grateful.

NEXT STORY

Comment

LONG FORM
ONE WORD