Marvelous Mallika Chopra

Just over a year ago, Edie Weinstein interviewed me for her radio program. She is a kind soul and we had an instantaneous bond that carries forward through today. The cosmic forces collided to provide an opportunity for us to meet in the biggest of apples.

Edie began her Tuesday in PA and I woke up at 56th and Broadway. At 1:00, we met for lunch at Mangia in Manhattan. Her bold and bodacious publicist pal, Sherri Rosen, joined us for a delightful meal. These women are kindred spirits and we all share a passion for spirituality.

After lunch, Sherri departed for her Harlem home. Edie stuck with me on a long stroll though Times Square where we enjoyed an afternoon of people watching. We grabbed some tea, coffee, and a gigantic oatmeal cookie before taking a much needed rest in the apartment. We revved the engines around 6:00 and took a downtown subway to ABC Home Furnishings.

Hidden on the second floor is an elegant conference room with previous events ranging from Saturday yoga to a campaign stop for President Obama. On this evening, we were treated to the national book launch event for Mallika Chopra. While she comes from famous parents, she is blazing her own admirable path in life.

We have a mutual friend in San Diego which gave me the perfect opportunity to introduce myself before the event kicked into high gear. Her eyes lit up as we chatted about our acquaintance. Moments later, Gabriel Bernstein joined her on a slightly elevated stage and these two luminaries began an hour long discussion about Living with Intent.

One of the first topics of discussion was Mallika’s unhealthy relationship with chocolate chip cookies. She told a tale of a game she would play while driving from her Beverly Hills home to Santa Monica. When she passed a certain store, if there was a “meant to be” open parking spot, she would stop to indulge her habit. She smirked when she admitted this usually involved ten to fifteen trips around the block. After this confession, Gabriel opened up about her unhealthy former addiction to alcohol. Is it possible that a daughter of a famous spiritual leader and a NY Times best selling author could be flawed like the rest of us?

Mallika told a story of growing up in a surreal environment where famous people would often show up in her living room seeking spiritual guidance from her father. A few from her long list included Oprah, Al Gore, and George Harrison. While we see the glamorous side of these people, she claims that the underbellies are all similar.

The conversation drifted to the universal insecurity of questioning her ability to be a good parent. She confided that she let her parents down by skipping meditation for three or maybe nine years. I howled when she told us that her husband is a serial entrepreneur and does not have a spiritual bone in his body. Her stresses are normal and famous parents create as many problems as they solve.

Her open and honest admissions reminded me of my days on the Camino where I decided that our similarities are much greater that the ridiculous oppositions that we are fed on a daily basis. Here is a passage from my book:

By this point in my journey, I had met many diverse people from all walks of life who came to Spain from every corner of the world. It seemed to me that the Camino was an equalizer of all people. On the Way, people were not defined by their religion, age, occupation, or wealth. We all slept in the same room and nobody had a gold-plated backpack. Instead, we were defined by how we treated each other in the moment. The more time I spent with my new friends, the more I realized how similar we all are as human beings. Our problems with relationships, finances, health, and mortality are all universal, as are the common denominators that unlock our enjoyment of happiness. From the first step, we felt like a large family walking each other home.

This was another great day in a never ending journey. The lesson of the day is to celebrate the overwhelming similarities we all encounter in life. Flush all divisiveness!!