Only that day dawns to which we are awake.

Some words from one of my patron saints, Henry David Thoreau. Last night I was not in a very good state. I have been unhappy with various aspects of the club as of late, as a reading of my journal will testify. It all came to a head when I talked with one of the dancers and told her to leave. It bothered me greatly. Not because of having to tell her to leave, the decision was a good business decision. But because of the way that I told her, the path that I’ve taken to get to the point to approach her like I did, the person that I was when I fired her. It does not bother me as much to have to hire or fire someone, especially when that decision is made on business grounds (performance, personality fit, attitude, etc…) but when I do so I generally will outline the whys for them. In dealing with them I am treating them as a human being. When I talked to the girl last night I did not care and the awareness of that lack of caring struck fear and loathing toward myself. What was I?

In my emotional state I took down all of the little motivational papers from the wall. E expressed worry over this. Thinking about it, I wonder if I’ve made any difference in anyone’s life there at the club? The same girls are smoking and snorting and drinking the same weed/drugs/alcohol and moving through the same circles of behavior in their relationships with each other/family/boyfriends/husbands. It is so very easy to get caught up in the “causal chain” trap in this environment. X happens because of B. For every thing that happens, from the smallest to the largest, from DUI’s to being late on stage, to missing a shift, to freaking out and throwing stuff in the dressing room, from breaking up with a boyfriend to having to crash on someone’s couch, to being in debt to drinking too much to get “in the vibe”, all of it, everything has a chain of reasons and why’s behind it to explain it all away. But the simple matter is this, give a simple description of the state of a person’s life and daily/nightly habits and it is the same, a warrant for arrest, abusive use of drugs/alcohol, tardiness in doing anything (work, play), paranoia and emotional instability in relationships (work, self, family, significant other), tickets, credit collections, having to work extra shifts to cover rent, emotional outbursts of “I can’t do this any more”, and more. There is a list of descriptors that can generally be applied universally to everyone that works in the industry, save the bartenders and cooks. Yes… I am falling into this causal chain of excuses.

I am stronger than this. I am more mindful of my Self to fall into paltry emotional storms from whatever source. I’ve gone through more dangerous circumstances than a strip club, so I should be able to maintain my integrity of self, my standing firm in my own emotional waters than to let the insecurities, paranoia, and neuroticisms of the girls affect me in such a manner. Were E to read this entry I would imagine that a thought to cross her mind would be that she is to blame for much of my emotional distress. Not true. It is true that E has not yet learned mindfulness, is still quite young in many ways and has some emotional maturing to undergo and that her emotional storms some times make it hard for me. But in all truth and sincerity I cannot fault her on any level. I am reminded of the Buddha’s story of a woman overcome with grief at the loss of her child; so much so that she refused to let go of the dead child’s body and walked around a crying zombie-like woman. She heard of the Buddha teaching in a nearby town and she went to ask for a miracle, to bring her child back to life. The Buddha said that he could and would if she were to bring him a mustard seed from a house that did not experience death. The woman went from door to door, person to person, asking for a mustard seed, only to find that every one she talked to has had a loved one die. She eventually learned that suffering is part of life and she was able to let go of the dead child’s body and begin anew her own life. This story speaks to me because the grass is not greener on the other side of the fence, all relationships require work, patience, giving and taking, and have their bumps. Right now E lies in bed, asleep, and my heart warms to the thought of her… I wish to go into the room and kiss her gently. But if I do so I shall forget the point that I was making.

It is not E’s fault for my emotional instability as of late, though she might stubbornly disagree. The reason, that I understand very well, is that I’ve not cultivated mindfulness. I cannot understate at all the importance that practicing mindfulness has made on my life in the last five years. Ever since I read “Zen Flesh Zen Bones” in 99 (or was it 2000?) and have read the wonderful trilogy of books by Thich Naht Hahn in 98, and began my own daily practice of meditation… it is reaped rewards. I was able to, for short bits of time, and longer with practice, escape the knee-jerk reactions of my emotions, the automated responses that plagued me so. The desire for this change has been within me since the Marines, particularly 1992, and I always admonished myself for acting with thinking, allowing my body to run wild. Change was slow in coming. It wasn’t until 98 when I read about Zen did I really get the tools to make change… and what change I made.

That change has been buried in the day to day automatic existence from which troubles arise. I do not want to live… I want to live deliberately. I do not want to make it, I want to experience it. I feel as though I’ve awakened from a hazy dream and I wonder where the past couple of months have gone. Time to re-start my meditation practice, my mindful walks in the neighborhood with a cup of coffee and a smile. When was the last time that I whistled a tune? I can’t remember…. and this is unlike me.

When I am mindful, I am free, and I am happy.

Without mindfulness we are all too easily stuck in the momentum coming out of the past, with no clue to our own imprisonment, and no way out.
~ Jon Kabat-Zinn

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