The holiday workload was insane, but so was the overtime $. The pressure I’d inadvertently put on my coworkers by not informing Steve earlier of Shana’s impending departure failed to materialize as backlash. And Steve, on his own, shouldered the loss of his most effervescent employee by bringing in three seasoned pros: an installation mgr., a salesperson, and a maintenance tech.
He was turning the corner. He was going corporate.
Was that where I wanted to go?
I balanced everything through running and yoga and, after initially discarding them, through the wonderful insight meditation techniques as taught in the Theravada school of Buddhism. Having overlooked them seemed the equivalent of having skipped basic chemistry before moving on to rocket science.
Then came the day of the sealed manilla envelope. “Here,” said Steve. “Take this home with you, get back to me within, say, 24 hours?”
It was, essentially, a 15% pay increase, a $500 Christmas bonus, and a co-pay healthcare plan. All three were mildly, yet quite intentionally, insulting. The ghost of Shana. His way of revenge over my disloyalty, his embarrassment.
End of the day the next day. Just he and I left in the office. Greenhouse and showroom closed, locked, lights out.
Me: Your proposal is… fair, I think. I accept on the condition you allow me a week’s vacation beginning next Monday.
Steve: (Thinking it over) Deal.
Monument Valley, AZ. The only way I even knew I was there, coming in at night from the west, was because, quite suddenly, there were enormous, black, vertical, rectangular shapes—holes—against a star-filled sky.
The next evening I hiked, (illegally), & camped, (sleeping bag only), at the foot of one of those montrous formations, only to be escorted out by four Hopi gentlemen in an old pickup at 4AM. They never said a word, just guided me by flashlight and shotgun to get into the truck, then get out upon reaching the highway.
About halfway between the road to Key’s View and Squaw Tank in Joshua Tree National Monument, at the lowest elevation of a rough trail, a very curious boulder exists. Its shape is soft, quite inviting, like a massive love seat.
Milky Way, if you look straight up.
Upon coming back to LA I returned the Jeep Cherokee to the dealership, (voluntary repossession), quit my job, moved out of Don’s house, caught a taxi to the Greyhound station downtown, took the bus to Palm Springs, caught the MBTA #12 to Twentynine Palms, then a local taxi to Belle campground.
One of the quickest, most profound ways of discovering an essential truth, according to Mahayana, was a relatively simple meditation practice in which the practitioner discerns the difference, (if indeed there was a differnce), between the observer, (oneself), the object, and the act of observation.