The new book is a preemie. Expected in December, arrived in November. And it’s a Sherpa! Most unusually, a lost one. I figured, if I ever hired a sherpa to see me to the summit, that’s exactly what would happen. Nowhere to go but up, and we still get lost.
A few people have asked, “Do the poems in Lost Sherpa of Happiness have something to do with Nepal or Mount Everest?” Uh, no. Like most things in life, it’s more complicated.
The idea started with the story of Siddhartha Gautama, the Indian prince who would eventually become the Buddha. Legend has it that he lived a royal life in a royal palace when his royal curiosity got the better of him (sound familiar, Adam and Eve?). When Siddhartha journeyed outside the protective walls of his royal digs, he encountered old age, sickness, and death. This shook him up mightily. So much so that he gave all his worldly goods up and set out on a quest for enlightenment and nirvana (which look a lot like happiness in my book).
These poems, then, are about man’s endless–and often rocky–search for happiness. Thomas Jefferson called it “the pursuit of happiness,” and Buddhists and Hindus call it samsara, but round and round it goes because the line is not a direct one and may take more than this lifetime.
Why? Because life isn’t easy and the obstacles are many. Interestingly enough, these obstacles exist as much INSIDE your head as OUTSIDE your body. Thus, the poems range from the challenges of childhood to middle age to the wintry days of our lives’ Decembers.
The second of the new book’s three sections (called “searches”) treats exclusively on animals. We’re not the only ones who have it rough, trust me. My hope was to mirror life by including humor, sadness, nostalgia for the past, hope for the future, desperation, and joy. And as was true with my first poetry collection, The Indifferent World, nature poems are as profuse as birdsong in April.
My sophomore effort: If I smoked, I’d light up a cigar to celebrate. If I drank, I’d pour myself a tumbler of Jameson Irish whiskey. As I do neither, I’ll just take a deep breath, inhale the crisp air of gratitude, and try to keep up with my sherpa, who seems to be losing me….