One of the happier ironies of recent history is that even as Tibet is being wiped off the map in Tibet itself, here it is in California, in Switzerland, in Japan. All over the world, Tibetan Buddhism is now part of the neighborhood. In 1968, there were two Tibetan Buddhist centers in the West. By 2000, there were 40 in New York alone.
What I treasure most at any moment is intimacy, surprise, a sense of mystery, wit, depth and love. A handful of cherished friends offer me this, and the occasional singer or film-maker or artist. But my most reliable sources of electricity are Henry David Thoreau, Shakespeare, Melville and Emily Dickinson.
Older boys were allowed to beat younger ones at my 15th-century English boarding school, and every boy had to run a five-mile annual steeplechase through the sludge and rain of an October day, as horses do. We wrote poems in dead languages and recited the Lord's Prayer in Latin every Sunday night.