Let me count the ways. I mean, just look at you:
I love that you offer your hands to me in a Buddhist expression of gratefulness and reconciliation. It’s so surprising. Almost as if I’ve never seen you before.
I love that the disaffected Thai teens smoking and flirting behind you don’t even seem to know you’re there. And still you stand there, unphased, in a gesture of gratitude and oneness.
I love that you were probably ill-conceived in not just this, but all your forms. (A recent study has found, once and for all, "that clowns are universally disliked by children. Some found them quite frightening and unknowable.") And yet there you remain, steadfast, in your gesture of gratitude and oneness.
I love your creepy, creepy face. That plastered-on smile. Those ambiguously arched eyebrows. Have you come to kill me, right here in front of everyone?
No. I can trust that you aren’t in fact here to take my life. Even if it’s so that the cuisine you peddle might as well be some kind of time-released poison, there you are, with your hands together, welcoming me as a comrade in the Dharma-world.
You may be frightening and unknowable, but you seem to have made peace with that. That’s certainly admirable.
And I love that there’s a culture in which it’s not remotely abnormal for you to be standing that way. I wish my own culture was more like yours, but it’s not. Maybe someday. But I’m not holding my breath.
Not least of all, I love that you were sent to me by Thanissaro Bhikkhu, (aka "Than Geoff"), an American monk of the Thai Forest tradition who’s plugged in, smart as a whip, has a great sense of humor, and whose voice is strangely reminiscent of that of the late, great Barry White. He simply captured your image and had it emailed it to me. Could he have ever fathomed that your appearance would rock my world so? It’s as though everything that The Worst Horse has ever done was merely in preparation for this moment.
Now, I might have simply said that you are holding your hands in gassho, which is the Japanese, and perhaps-best-known, name for it. But as Than Geoff reminds us: there’s a Thai word for it — wai — and in Pali/Sanskrit, it’s anjali. Do you see, Ronald? What you’re doing is so much more universal than you might know.
Of course, many people don’t — and won’t ever — love you as I now do. To them, you’re not a symbol of universality, but of globalization. Of rampant obesity and ill-health. Of processed food-stuffs whose nutritional value goes so far beyond "questionable" that it might even be criminal.
And yet: you are unmoved. You have something special to offer: a smiling face, a posture of balance and harmony. Committed, you bestow your gesture of gratitude and oneness upon each and every sentient being who comes your way.
They will have to rip you out of the cement and smash you to bits to keep you from doing so.
Oh, bizarro Thai Ronald McDonald. . .
Why can’t I be more like you?
–Rod Meade Sperry, editor of the Horse.
JAN 24 2008