My book, “How To Be Human: The Manual” was released into the wild in Januarry. I was not going to let the baby slide out unnoticed. I am one of the most pushy people I know and will go to almost any length, including door-to-door if required, to make a sale. I am my father’s daughter - my father managed to make a living selling pig bladders (the outside of hot dogs) and if you can sell that, you can sell anything. For some of the book tour I did a three-way conversation with the monk, Thubten and the neuroscientist, Ash, both of whom contributed to the book. Our first stop as a threesome was the Romanesque/Norman Ely cathedral, dating from 1081 with a sixty-six-metre-high ceiling. It makes Notre Dame look like an outhouse. The hall was so long I needed a telescope to see the end.
I thought the venue would intimidate them, I mean, performing live isn’t part of their remit - especially to 1,500 audience members. One fixes brains, the other fixes minds; show business doesn’t come into it. Anyway, they were hits, not nervous in the least: charming, smart, sometimes much funnier than me, but I forgave them because I love them and we were in a church and you can’t really hold a grudge in there.
When people asked how we met, I said ‘Tinder’ and Thubten said ‘Monker,’ an app to pick up monks. I picked Thubten up the first time we met, asking him if he wanted to move into my house. My kids had just left home and I thought he would be a perfect replacement. Also his robes look fantastic with the cushions, he’s like a walking air freshener.
After most book events, I sign books. This time, Ash and Thubten got their own table for signing, I watched them like a proud mother watching her baby walk for the first time. They were naturals; smiling, chatting, over-excited with all the attention. For a moment, I panicked that they might turn into divas, demanding their own dressing rooms. It could happen, Thubten wanted to be an actor before he became a monk; he wasn’t born in a maroon nappy. I heard him say he only has a few robes but he might eventually expand his wardrobe. When I asked him what colours would he add? He said, “Fifty-seven shades of red.” (He was joking – I think.) When I first met Thubten, aside from working for addicts, prisoners and kids, he did talks for Google, FaceTime, big multi-national banks, huge corporations etc. He’s not allowed to take money for himself; he takes donations to build retreats. I asked him how much he charged the big companies? When he told me the pittance, I immediately taught him to negotiate. We’re thinking of calling our next book, “Act like a Buddha, Think Like a Jew.”
After Ely, I had to tour on my own. What amazed me was my book signing in Glasgow, where the men asked all the questions, usually it’s mostly women. Underneath that macho image (even though they like to wear skirts for formal occasions,) these men were incredibly honest about their vulnerability. One man sitting next to his wife said, “I came to the show because my wife brought me. I’m an extremely angry guy and have three kids. My wife told me to try mindfulness which I thought was mumbo jumbo but it triggered something and I thought if Ruby does it… knowing your personality and I like your comedy, I’m able to admit, I’m suffering from depression and I realize that I had an anxiety attack a few years ago. I think that machismo was part of my upbringing. My dad was the type of guy who had to have his leg hanging off before he would go to a doctor. It’s difficult to admit that I can’t deal with my own issues. I’m now scheduled to speak to someone. What do you think?”
I told his wife how lucky she was to have such a great husband. To be able to be that honest is the bravest man of all.
How To Be Human: The Manual is available online and from all good bookshops. I'm on tour this spring with my #Frazzled Show. Tickets are still available - book quick.
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