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Lions Roar : March 2019
I had my protagonist. Now we needed some dharma guidance to light our way through this journey. I found it in Buddhist author Yael Shy and Buddhist teacher and psychotherapist Melvin Escobar. “What a gift and what a risk,” said Escobar about Alicia’s volunteering. “Thank you for your service and practice.” FOUR FRIENDS GATHERED to help Alicia create her dating profile. I helped her write her description, using the same guidelines I’ve used to write my own. Here’s the thing: no one knows what the heck to put in these darn profiles. Some people make a wish list: “I hope you’re into hiking, love dogs, and won’t eat all the chocolate out of the Neapolitan ice cream.” Others post a laundry list of qualities they don’t want: “No drama. No head games. No people who wear blue socks on Tuesdays.” I always imagine the online dating world to be like a party we’re all attending, so I try to present the version of me you’d meet at a real-life party—a little redhead whose teeth are blue from red wine, who is probably trying to eat all of the smoked cheese, and who may or may not be wearing a large knitted sweater called her “adventure sweater.” I also read others’ profiles as if I’m at a party as well. Can you imagine if you walked up to someone by the buffet table and said, “Hi, how are you?” and that person replied, “NO DRAMA!! NO HEAD- GAMES!!” You would scramble for safety. So we wrote Alicia’s profile to present her “party person.” Alicia said at that moment everything seemed to be flourishing in her life. “I’m very open, grounded, and rooted in who I am,” she noted. “My friend- ships are getting deep and rich, I’m speaking out more at my job, and I’m also creating better bound- aries. So why not try this now?” Alicia hadn’t been dating for awhile, because the last time she tried it, it was for the wrong reasons. “I acted out of, ‘Everyone around me is in a relation- ship. I need to get one.’ It was from a place of fear.” Who Alicia chose to meet reflected this. “One guy told me he was a spy with the government,” she laughed. “When I started to poke holes in his story, he said, ‘Oh, this isn’t working out.’” Alicia also met someone who was racist and anti- immigrant. “So I said to him, ‘I am a woman of color THERE WAS A KNOCK at the door of my cabin. There he was, the guy I was here with at this music festival. “I locked myself out of my cabin, so can I use your key to get back in?” he asked. I looked at him, wondering how this grown man makes it through life. “No, you can’t,” I said slowly. “Why?” he asked, confused. “Because that’s not how keys work,” I said, grit- ting my teeth. “My key won’t open yourdoor.” He looked at me help- lessly, just as he had when he couldn’t figure out how to get the car key out of the igni- tion, and I had to tell him to put the car in “park” when he parks it. Like when he forgot his festival pass and we were forty minutes away, and when he accidentally ran over a raccoon and joked about it constantly, even though I told him it upset me. He was baffled when I couldn’t wait to drop him off at the airport after four very long days. Man oh man, dating is an area where I see (and experience) a lot of suffering, especially in the wacky world of online dating. Every day my phone lights up with a friend asking for help analyzing a message (or the lack of a message). It’s not exclusive to gender or age or any other qualifier—everyone’s doing it, everyone’s messed up from it, and we all think, “It must just be me.” It’s not. We’re all floundering in these murky dating waters together, telling ourselves the same stories about why we (and everyone else out there) suck. So I decided to ask some Buddhist teachers to throw us a few lines of wisdom back to shore—for those times when there’s no “why” or “how” and our insecurities fill in any gaps with self-constructed storylines about how inadequate we are. Then my friend Alicia, upon hearing I was doing this story, announced, “I’ll do it. I’ll sign up for a dat- ing site and we can document my process from the very beginning. It’s investigative research, so I’m not attached to any outcome. It’ll just be an experiment.” match 71% roscoe42 46 • Boise, ID Message... Send Today - 7:36am Telme 2:46 PM Conversation 83% Hello Alicia? Would you like to chat? We can chat now if you like. Hello? My real name is Walter Blenford. Getting Out There ISTOCK.COM/PHILSAJONESEN LION’S ROAR | MARCH 2019 66