Seattle, WA, USA, 15 April 2008 (By Jennifer Langston, Seattle Post Intelligencer) - Since the Dalai Lama's Seattle visit began, 16-year-old Molly Hollyman has reflected on missed opportunities.
The person she could have let in front of her at the grocery store line, but didn't. The resentment she could have let go when someone cut her off in traffic.
"It's the little things you could change about yourself that would make people happy," said Hollyman, who regularly volunteers at food banks and park cleanups.
Whether a five-day focus on compassion will have a lasting impact -- in people's personal lives or the community at large -- remains to be seen. People get busy, inspiration fades, resolve weakens.
But response to a question about how to deal with failure to live up to one's goals, Archbishop Desmond Tutu on Tuesday had this advice: Try again.
Many who attended Seeds of Compassion events say they do have the potential to be transformational.
Michal Inspektor, who brought 6-month-old Yuli to hear the Dalai Lama, said she felt validated by his emphasis on motherhood and the importance of lavishing children with affection.
Originally from Israel, she was also struck by how frequently and deeply the Tibetan leader paused to consider a question.
"It's very un-American to take the time to think," she said. "It's something I'd like to teach Yuli and to teach myself."
Jesse Burmeister, 23, an event volunteer who has studied yoga for years, said he generally leads a rich spiritual life. But much of his focus has been introspective, he said.
Figuring out how to be happy is an important step toward helping others do so, he said. But now he's questioning whether he's gone far enough in that direction.
"My life has been very independent and I've really been focused on myself and where do I want to be. Coming to an event like this makes me think maybe I've been thinking too much about myself," he said.
Over the weekend, the Dalai Lama's message was resonating in some circles.
Tanya Maurer of Bellevue said she heard even hard-eyed politicos gushing about peace and compassion at a Democratic caucus meeting.
"I think it is affecting people -- for how long, I don't know," she said. "I seemed to see a lot of people who had a renewal of faith and confidence that things could get better in the world."
Eliana Belenky, 17, of Mercer Island said she liked the Dalai Lama's advice to counterbalance anger by focusing on an opposing emotion, which always exists if one looks hard enough.
As a teenager, it's easy to get aggravated with her parents or siblings, she said.
"Sometimes I lash out...when I should take a minute to think, Am I really angry at them or am I just spilling my emotions around?"
Belenky, who attends goddess worship services at Gaia's Temple in Ballard, said inspirational speeches absolutely can effect change. Just look at Martin Luther King Jr., she said.
"Not everyone will go away ... and say 'I'm going to go save the world and spend all my money feeding poor people in Africa,'" she said. "But still there's going to be a few who say, 'Wow, I really can do something.'
"And a few is better than none."