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Lions Roar : September 2005
MY PREPARATION FOR “The Heart of the Buddha,” a retreat I did with Thich Nhat Hanh a few years ago at Plum Village in France, was not at all what I had anticipated. My eighteen-year-old son, Alexander, was studying at the Glasgow School of Art in Scotland, and my transatlantic phone calls that summer had told me he was deeply in trouble with drugs. I arranged to spend time with him in Glasgow prior to the retreat. We had not seen one another for a few years, so a visit was overdue, particularly since he had suffered great- ly from a divorce that divided his parents between two con- tinents. At the Glasgow airport I scarcely recognized him, as he now sported a multicolored punk hairstyle with all the required black accoutrements. Yet he greeted me with a warm hug and a big smile. On arriving at the place he was living I knew something was dreadfully amiss. There were no books or art materials in his room. His large rambling apartment was occupied, as I later discovered, by “The Tribe”—a shifting population of punks, drug users, and dealers. As I sat in Alexander’s squalid room wondering about him, he left for a while. There was such an atmosphere of decay and hopelessness that for a moment I felt utter despair—I did not know what to do. I Showdown at Punk Palace It’s mindfulness versus Megadeth when IAN PRATTIS visitshisart school son. Will awareness triumph over alienation, hope over heroin? A young life may be at stake. ILLUSTRATIONBYJESSICAVONHANDORF.PHOTO©DAVEROBERTSON/MASTERFILE