A job opportunity came my way back in New York that caused me to leave Colorado at the end of the season. Perhaps I was too far up on the idea of letting go, or perhaps I was too eager to be seen as valuable. I won’t say I made the wrong choice, because one thing leads to the next, but I do feel that my eyes could have been open a bit wider to the reality of that situation. And that’s the lesson I pull. Other people are tricky though. I’m learning more and more how deeply the sensitive ego is embedded in our culture. Those who are the furtherest gone, have no idea that there are other options for ways of being. They don’t see a choice, and that makes it difficult to interact with them. They are trapped and feel they must defend themselves and prove their worth constantly. How exhausting! They figure everyone else is like that too, and those who are not, naturally threaten them. Where they are, is trapped in the tractor beam of competition. I find it hard to be around – the pressure overwhelms me. All too often I am saddened with how my joy and perspective on life is threatening to others. They test me by attacking, and it can be quite hard to accept.
In the empty space I found myself in after that work ended, I decided that maybe I’d really enjoy becoming an Occupational Therapist. Learning a bit about what my role would be…it felt enticing. I was realizing more and more how much I wanted to spend my life helping. The question was in what ways. I tried to give the school thing another go in order to get there. I guess I had to be reminded once again how much traditional schooling wasn’t for me. I truly feel that these classrooms are a nightmare. They move so fast, and the grading is such a focal point. I felt myself taking the time to become interested in a subject, but before I could justly investigate creatively, I was hurled forward into new areas that required quick memorization and pretend knowledge of subjects on a very surface level. Everything was geared toward the test, and I saw how little actual knowledge would be retained throughout this process. It wasn’t worth my time. Time is too valuable, and I hate the idea of paying dues toward a future which can only be guessed at.
I backed away quickly and leapt again. One of the things I have been grateful for is not succumbing to the pressure of ‘being a quitter.’ Perhaps due to many of my successes, I have been able to combat it. But still, I am thankful that my ego hasn’t gotten in the way of making the decisions that feel right. Ultimately, we need to have enough self worth not to judge ourselves for backing away when we are well aware of what we are capable of.
I wanted to go west – to perhaps a place where more people were starting to ‘get it.’ The east wasn’t feeling progressive enough for me. I knew I had a couple of good friends I could stay with in California until I got my feet on the ground, so that was where I went. This time I said goodbye to my car and flew. I’m not exactly sure why, but that’s what I did. I ended up living in LA for about six months while I taught PE at a small private orthodox jewish school (which was a fun trip back to childhood for me). I skateboarded there most days and did a lot of yoga. My favorite part of teaching PE was getting to be the supervisor during recess. I learned a lot just standing there and watching the kids at play. I saw my observation itself as a bit of an art form. Overall, I really tried to allow and just let them be in their natural goodness…but every once in awhile I would step in to play my part. Just watching them, I learned so much about human communication and natural tendencies. I also learned about the art of adult guidance.
At the same time, I decided to go to bartending school. It was a short couple months, and I figured it could be handled. Bartending had always been something I wanted to try and felt I could be good at. The class was actually quite intense, and I had to give it my all. But it still didn’t prepare me for where I’d end up next.
My sister Seri was living with her boyfriend also in California, but they were getting ready to move. I decided what I could use was some family support, and decided to rent a house and live with them in Monterey (about halfway up the state along the coast). The house was spectacular. We had a large balcony which gave a clear view to the ocean about half a mile away. Sunsets descended right alongside that view. I was really happy. I didn’t have a job before I left, so I just went pounding the pavement when I got there. Someway, somehow, due to letting go and to chance itself, I landed myself a position at a top notch cocktail bar in town. I learned a craft from a couple of great teachers. The position required that I move fast and had focus (which was for me). There was a flow needed – an efficiency of movement that connected mind and body. After all, the thought of that was what drove me to want to pick up the trade to begin with. Interactions with people, memorization of recipes, improvisation when necessary. When it got busy, I saw myself as a machine, and I loved falling into that place of mind.
I also learned a lot more about people from the other side of that bar. Very wealthy people especially. I saw the reality of how they were struggling just as much as anyone. For some reason, that was important, as it altered my relationship with money. Happiness is the goal, and having money didn’t seem to be the only thing necessary to getting there. I knew that before, but more proof is always a good thing.
A few months into my life in Monterey, I decided that this was the spot for me to get a dog. I had already had so many years of just having to take care of myself. I was thirsty for some more responsibility. I wasn’t going to rush into any relationship in order to have kids, but I could still take a step toward being a poppa. I found Kira at about eight weeks old. I read some books before and after I got her which gave me some direction. Training her was so much fun and caused me to put into action many of my beliefs. She’s my fierce little princess lady and she’s very into nature. In a real way, the two of us are a family.
My sister’s boyfriend also had a dog and I took Kira and Dante out on walks all the time as she grew up. The memory of many fantastic journeys through those woods makes me smile. I can say that having Kira has been a huge change in my life and that it’s hard to imagine what it was even like before. Just right now she is keeping me company. Yes of course sacrifices often have to be made, but it has never been a question whether or not the rewards outweigh.
After about a year, I was offered a job to manage a wine bar and restaurant a few hours north in Palo Alto. It was hard to leave my life in Monterey, but our lease was up, my housemates were leaving, and there were many pros to taking this new opportunity. The restaurant was homey and beautifully designed in an old victorian house close to Standford. There was plenty of outdoor seating next to fire pits and heat lamps along with live music performed nightly. There were some serious red flags in this decision, but I wanted a chance to have the new experience of managing adults.
It was cool to be a part of an area with so much expansion and new energy around. Palo Alto is the center of the internet commotion. There were three owners of the restaurant and they had agreed to host Kira and I at their houses. These conditions were supposed to only last until I found my own place, but right away I saw that it wasn’t going to be a long term position for me. I saw that they were divided in their relationships, that two of them were pitted against one (not a recipe for success). It’s amazing how things almost always come down to a failure in relationships. Every time that seems to be the case. But, I was able to save money for a while and experience a position of leadership that was very growth inducing. So I am thankful for that half a year.
You might say I’m greedy for experiences and that would probably be true enough. But, I don’t apologize for it. Often I feel we stay in situations only to serve some insecurity concerning the idea of longevity. Each experience I’ve had has taught me so much about myself and life. I would be sad to not have had each and every one of them. Dealing with the expectations of commitment has been an interesting challenge in my life. I have had to remind myself that I don’t believe that I have issues – that there’s not a reason to settle in our lives – that if something is good enough I’ll stay, if it’s not, I’ll move on to something else. It doesn’t have to be perfect, it just has to be good enough for my own expectations…which are mine alone to have and to judge.
Often I hear people discuss the economy, the lack of jobs, and a general attitude of life being difficult. It is so clear to me that this does not have much grounding in reality, but rather a need to scare ourselves into settling. The internet alone has allowed for more opportunity than ever before in history. If I want to, I can fairly easily apply to twenty different jobs within a day, and I can expose myself to plenty of new ideas and information. There is less of a reason to settle than there ever has been before. It’s just a question of shifting perspective, and seeing opportunity where it exists.