Thursday, June 2, 2011

Waking Up from My Dream and Being Angry About It

So after a few short weeks, I woke up from my dream job.  I should remember to never get a job working for owners who either aren't silent or aren't restaurant people.  It doesn't matter how great your crew is or how wonderfully they're led by the management, if the owners won't let go their ego in favor of the success of the business, it's doomed to fail. 

So here I find myself with two paths.

1 - Be pissed off, and for good reason.  This really was a dream opportunity.  I was coming into a restaurant that needed my particular skills.  It was a delightful atmosphere, very casual yet mature enough that things still got done.  The management was sincerely invested in every employees success and saw the greater picture.  After just long enough to start making plans for the future, like committing to cook three meals a day for my sangha for 45 days, around my work schedule, the chef that doesn't even work there told me my next scheduled day, I wouldn't be on the kitchen schedule. 

Not "we have to let you go, sorry," but, some lame story about how business is slow and they want to keep me around because I'm a quality employee but due to loyalty to other (less skilled or motivated) employees who don't know they should have asked for a raise because they deserve it, that I should talk to the front of the house manager about serving or bartending.  Other gems concerning the owners and a whole mess of trouble arose after that, but that's what I had to deal with then.

== OR ==

2. I see it for how it's benefited me.  I did make some new friends and had some fun in a cool environment.  I learned some new skills and recipes since I'd never worked as a prep cook before.  My interest in returning to the kitchen was renewed, whereas before I was dreading it as an obstacle to my graduation.  I also rekindled that spark from my first job of "the people in charge are irresponsible and/or stupid, I can do this better. What's stopping me?"  After taking it easy for so long I feel that assertiveness again.  This time I can taste the ability to actually help a restaurant prosper and grow, not just survive.

It also held time for me in a way.  I was able to get at least 3 weeks into the practice period before really having to get another job.  I could have gotten a different one that wouldn't have afforded me that option.  Being tenzo for Ango is more valuable to me in experience than any job I've had so far.  I really am behaving and working as a chef, not like a chef, but as a chef.  I'm planning daily menus once a week, putting together shopping lists and purchasing ingredients.  I'm also learning to delegate responsibility to make sure things get done when I'm not around, and have had to deal with the consequences of it not getting done.  I'm actually cooking breakfast, lunch and dinner Saturday through Thursday with the exception of two dinners.  I've had to pay attention to dietary needs as I haven't before since what I cook is essentially the diet for 8+ people for nearly two months.

So take a guess at which path I've chosen.

Both actually, and it's been an interesting experience.  Being angry is just as legitimately a Buddhist experience as sending love to my tormentors and wishing all beings happiness.  The Ninth Grave Precept is a prohibition against harboring ill will, not ever feeling it.  Allowing myself to feel what I feel is in accord with the teachings.  I can feel angry all I want as long as I'm mindful of why I'm angry.  Harboring ill will is holding on to and giving it shelter.  Once the emotion has done what  it needs, it should be let go.

The anger still comes up about the whole thing, as well as the joy in what may most likely happen to the whole operation.  But that dream I had about what my future path would hold in that life really is just that, a dream.  There was never any guarantee that that's how my life would turn out, and it definitely wouldn't be everything I imagined, it never is.

So now I return to the moment, take the bad as bad and the good as good.  I have other hopes of employment lined up, ones that may be infinitely better and that wouldn't have been available to me in the same way two months ago.

How can anyone argue with that?


  1. Ahh. I'm sorry man that's a bummer. You certainly seem to be handling it in a mature way. I'm probably the least helpful person to advise on anger! But one thing I've noticed recently is whether the anger contains hostility. And towards who. Because sometimes it doesn't. I get angry at my kids sometimes, but there is no hostility inside the anger. I just want them to be save and behave and grow up correctly. Other times I'm angry at the world or injustice, but there is no hostility. But most of the time if I don't want to beat on someone else, I want to beat on myself.

    Good luck to you.

  2. I've never been one to see violence as an answer to anger, anger is in fact an emotion I don't usually recognize due to inexperience.

    One of my biggest foci of practice both in martial arts and zen is being less forgiving and passive, asserting dominance in a balanced way.

    Parental mind is something I've only experienced metaphorically, but I know with my parents, negativity towards my actions or failings always manifested as disappointment so anger there, too is alien, to me.

    Glad to hear what your practice has been doing for you. Sorry I haven't been making my rounds in reading blogs but I've been super busy. Hope I've brought you some traffic.

    I'm taking a break from refreshing my resume right now and have somewhere specific in mind that hopefully will work out. But if it doesn't, something else will come up.