| This morning, I overslept. Which is to say—sloth that I am, I dozed until the ungodly hour of 4:15 AM. I woke up only minutes before the Gurugita was to begin, motivated myself reluctantly to get out of bed, splashed some water on my face, dressed and—feeling so crusty and cranky and resentful—went to leave my room in the predawn pitch-black . . . only to find that my roommate had left the room before me and had locked me in.
This was a really difficult thing for her to have done. It's not that big a room and it's hard not to notice that your roommate is still sleeping in the next bed. And she's a really responsible, practical woman—a mother of five from Australia. This is not her style. But she did it. She literally padlocked me in the room.
My first thought, was: If there were ever a good excuse not to go to the Gurugita, this would be it. My second thought, though? Well—it wasn't even a thought. It was an action.
I jumped out the window.
To be specific, I crawled outside over the railing, gripping it with my sweaty palms and dangling there from two stories up over the darkness for a moment, only then asking myself the reasonable question, "Why are you jumping out of this building?" My reply came with a fierce, impersonal determination: I have to get to the Gurugita. Then I let go and dropped backward maybe twelve or fifteen feet through the dark air to the concrete sidewalk below, hitting something on the way down that peeled a long strip of skin off my right shin, but I didn't care. I picked myself up and ran barefoot, my pulse slamming in my ears, all the way to the temple, found a seat, opened up my prayer book just as the chant was beginning and—bleeding down my leg the whole while—I started to sing the Gurugita.
It was only after a few verses that I caught my breath and was able to think my normal, instinctive morning thought: I don't want to be here. After which I heard Swamiji burst out laughing in my head, saying: That's funny—you sure act like somebody who wants to be here.
And I replied to him, OK, then. You win.
I sat there, singing and bleeding and thinking that it was maybe time for me to change my relationship with this particular spiritual practice. The Gurugita is meant to be a hymn of pure love, but something had been stopping me short from offering up that love in sincerity. So as I chanted each verse I realized that I needed to find something—or somebody—to whom I could devote this hymn, in order to find a place of pure love within me. By Verse Twenty, I had it: Nick.