7

THE GIVEAWAY

Whatever joy there is in this worldAll comes from desiring others to be happyAnd whatever suffering there is in this worldAll comes from desiring myself to be happy.

—Shantideva

HAROLD MINTZ IS A BIG, SWEET GALOOT. HE INSISTS ON picking me up at the train station so I don’t get entangled in the color-coded sailor’s knot of the Washington, D.C., subway grid. When I slide into the front seat of his car, he gives me a broad smile and punches my arm, like I’m the buddy he was out shooting hoops with last weekend. He’s a large-boned man, six foot five; with his walrus moustache and thin gold earring, he could be a hip off-duty fireman, the kind who’d tell you a knock-knock joke while resuscitating you from smoke inhalation. When his ...

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