From Twilight Zone to Tibet

I’m a serious Twilight Zone fan. Rod Serling was one of my heroes and thanks to holiday viewing marathons I’ve probably seen every episode. Of my top three episodes, the first two are real tear-jerkers. My favorite is called The Hunt. (Season 3, episode 84). It’s about an old man and his hunting dog, Rip. Anyone who knows me knows that I’m a sucker for dog stories.

In second place is The Changing of the Guard (Season 3, episode 37), a wonderful tale of a schoolteacher who didn’t realize the value of the knowledge he had imparted to his students. As a writer, my list of favorites would not be complete without Time Enough At Last (Season 1, episode 8). It was about a mousy little man, Henry Bemis, who wanted nothing more than time to read. (spoiler alert) Be careful what you wish for.

I get Mr. Bemis’ point though. There are so many incredible books in every age range and genre. How does one read all the classics, best-sellers, award winners, fan favorites, new releases, and on and on? I’ve taken a stab at it by belonging to two reading groups. It’s always fun to read a book and get together with friends to discuss it.

Right now I’m reading Seven Years In Tibet by Heinrich Harrar, published in 1954. It’s the story of the author’s wartime escape to Tibet, a country that was a mystery to much of the world at that time. One of the reasons I was interested in this classic is because my husband and I traveled to Tibet in August, 2015. Bill and several of his colleagues were invited to speak about their research. We stayed in Lhasa, the city that Harrar wrote about. It was a remarkable experience so I thought I’d share some of the sights we encountered.

We began our journey in Shanghai, then flew to Chengdu and on to Lhasa, the capital city on the Tibetan Plateau. Up until the 1950’s it was the home of the Dalai Lama. As foreign nationals we were required to be part of a guided tour group and we traveled everywhere together in a minibus. The city itself was amazing and the people were so kind and friendly.

I learned so much. I even managed to ferret out a few ghost stories and scary folk tales, which I plan to include as inspiration in a new short story collection. The Feast of the Hungry Ghosts, which appeared in an earlier collection, Even More Scary Stories for Sleep-Overs, was based on a traditional Tibetan belief.

I hope that someday I will have the opportunity to return to the beautiful city of Lhasa.