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Tuesday, October 27, 2015

The "Zen Burglar"


June 6, 2015

Wow, what a cool place to write. I decided to take a stroll last week through old town Camarillo, CA. My wife was out of town, my daughter was at work, my son-in-law was working on his computer and my grandson was taking a nap – it seemed like a great time to get out and do some writing, take an adventure, and just get moving. I was looking for a place to have a meal, and a glass of wine that didn’t have a “chain” feel - a place where I could sit down and not feel like I was taking up a table, or being weird by writing on my laptop as a single at a two top in a restaurant. I was looking for a cool writer’s hang.
So, I proceeded to walk up and down Main Street at least four, if not five times - probably looked like a nut as I passed by the same people over and over, but I was on a mission. And besides, I know I’m a nut, so no worries there. Despite all of the walking, I struggled to find an establishment that fit the description of what I was looking for - then it came to me, seemingly out of nowhere. It was a very narrow restaurant with a somewhat clunky entrance - a bit understated to say the least. I had noticed it several times, but never stopped when suddenly it dawned on me – hey wait a minute, that’s exactly what I’m looking for! 
I decided to pop in and check out the “Sabores Peruvian CafĂ©.” Jackpot from the very beginning, I took one quick look around the room and noticed a warm, cozy feel, but more importantly, I saw my spot. It was as if that destination had been prepared for me all along. There it was in the back corner, a couch and a couple of big comfy chairs nestled against the back wall. The vibe was nothing short of super cool coffee shop – a writer’s hang. So, there I was, with my house cab, my laptop, sitting on a killer couch in the corner - ready to write!  
A quick side note – something that I just remembered about wine abbreviations. I was picking my wife up a few weeks ago from the LAX airport. I got there a little early because I was driving in from Vegas and didn’t want to be late. I was super early so I walked around the airport for a while when I finally decided to sit down somewhere and have a glass of wine. So, I made my way to a bar at the bottom of the international terminal, sat down and asked the bartender for a “cab.” He looked at me like I had two heads. I looked at him like he had three heads. We were both staring at each other and wondering what the problem was – what’s the communication breakdown here? I quickly refined my request and said, “Could I please have a house cab.” With a big smile on his face, the bartender laughed and explained that he had just moved to town from NYC. He was positive that I had asked for a taxicab. He was puzzled as to why I would seek to hail a cab from the bar. He was wondering if he had missed the memo on how cabs are hailed at LAX. It was really funny. I guess you had to be there. 
Anyway, back to the story. The title for this blog came to me a few nights ago when I was talking to my son and daughter about selling our house, which is currently on the market. We were talking about how safe our city streets are, and how incredibly safe our town is. Newbury Park is a great sleepy little town nestled in the Santa Monica Mountains. It’s reminiscent of Mayberry, Barney Fife and Sheriff Taylor. 
I was rehearsing my lines for what I would say to perspective buyers might they inquire about our safety rating. I blurted out something like “no one will ever rob, or steal your physical possessions in this town – the only thing that we have is the occasional “Zen Burglar.” That term just rolled off my tongue like water. It was really funny. I have no idea where it came from. I proceeded to describe the Zen burglar as someone that robs people of their joy, of their fun. The Zen Burglar places judgment on others without admitting, or remotely feeling like he’s judging anyone. The Zen Burglar worries about everyone but himself. He would say that he’s simply holding people responsible for themselves. He’s quick to point out others shortcomings when he hasn’t begun to deal with his own. He knows deep down inside that the root of his frustration has little to do with the people that he’s judging. He just hasn’t figured out how to “let it all go, how to just be comfortable with not having everything be exactly as he thinks it should be. The Zen Burglar has a bit of an ego, and he’s a bit controlling to say the least. The Zen Burglar has issues.  
So where does the Zen Burglar come from? Do you have a Zen Burglar in your house from time to time? Have you ever been a Zen Burglar? How does the Zen Burglar grow and manifest in the first place? Well, with me it was with thoughts like “man, my son should be doing this, or my son-in-law should be doing that, and my daughter should be doing this, or who didn’t do their dishes earlier today, which of you clowns slept late, who didn’t take out the trash? Of course, in reality, none of this stuff matters at ALL! Certainly not enough to live in a state of misery – not even close!
The real key here is to know and to act upon the fact that the more you let go of controlling others, the more control you’ll have over yourself. Do you have control over your own emotions, or does your sense of self-control come from controlling others? You might think that you’re at the top of your game when you’re controlling others, but your sense of self-control is actually zilch, 0, nada! You know what I’m talking about here my friend, can I get an AMEN! 
When I’m not careful I’ll walk into a perfectly balanced loving home and completely bring down the house in one fell swoop with just a few words like “who didn’t do their dishes, who left laundry in the dryer? It’s going to be rough for you guys when you can finally afford your own apartments!” What? Is dad home? The Zen Burglar didn’t just say that did he? Is that how he spent his day, and his drive home? I thought he was surfing, or working out, or composing, or meditating. Doesn’t he meditate on being calm and relaxed, or has he been stewing and festering again over whether or not the laundry was in the dryer all day – yeah… that’s what threw off his day – the laundry. The Zen Burglar’s at his best again. 
That sounds absolutely ridiculous, but that’s the way a lot of us roll – don’t deny it. It’s a lifetime of work for some of us to get to the point where we are able to keep ourselves centered, loving and supportive of others, especially our families. Sometimes I think my kids should have it as tough as I did, but then I realize that my wife and I have worked really hard in order to provide a better life for our kids and us. I should be rejoicing, dancing and thanking God that my wife and I can give them a better way then we had. So why don’t I? Because I have an ingrained extremely narrow vision of how life should be that’s inherently flawed. It’s a very restrictive, and small way of thinking. Why shouldn’t my kids have great success very early? Why shouldn’t they have great abundance? Why should I tell them they need to work harder and it won’t be easy and work your fingers to the bone and don’t expect anything in return and on and on and on... That’s not helpful, there are other ways – it’s the Zen Burglar tearing a hole in the universe – not cool. 
One more thing, its time for me to stop thinking that I created all of this goodness – there is a God after all. I’m not controlling anything despite what I think. It’s been incredibly illuminating through writing this blog to allow myself to step back and just live the life that I’ve been blessed with. I haven’t slept, felt more joy, or done much anything with more excitement and happiness then I have since I wrote this blog – thank you to whoever put that term Zen Burglar in my mind because it was meant for me to work through and for no one else. One more thing, here’s to once again regaining a beautiful sense of peace and love no matter where I am, who I’m with or what the circumstances are – it’s all good, it truly, truly is.
Until Next Time My Brothers and Sisters, Surf it Mellow – The MD