A Vignette from a Bar, Act One: Harlem, USA

Regularly venturing outside my zone of comfort and familiarity is a stated and lived goal in my life – one I make sure to adhere to every day. It is with this intention in mind that I allowed myself to partake in the bar scene after enjoying a fine meal at a beautifully intimate restaurant in Harlem.

After dinner, we headed upstairs to the packed and happening bar with its sexy bartenders and pulsating house music that took me way back to tha days! My friends and I scanned the room in search of suitable chocolate honeys. My eyes fall upon a particular honey – one with the physical characteristics I instantly responded to on a very visceral (and yes, I admit, most basic) level. “Let’s walk over to him,” a friend suggests. A woman walking over to a man? Not my usual or preferred style. But, hey, this was about veering a little away from my pattern, doing what is different and uncomfortable. So be it…

We walked over to the honey. Turns out he is celebrating a friend’s birthday. Honey shows no interest in me, showering attention on my friend. All good because, up close and in the light, honey was less appetizing to me – that base chakra of mine cooled down significantly and quickly!

With honey focused on my friend, his boy (the one celebrating a birthday) took it upon himself to entertain. He shared that he is now 55 years old.

“And how old are you?” he asked.

“Forty-six,” I responded.

“No?!” he gasped, genuinely stunned, “you can’t be!”

O—-kay, what the hell is this about, I thought to myself, knowing instinctively that this scene was only going downward from this point – and it did, fast!

In an attempt to keep matters light while I plot an exit plan, I said in jest “How do I know that you are really 55 years old?”

I expected (hoped) he’d flash a driver’s license or provide a response that would serve as fodder for a bit of fun repartee. No such luck.

“If you bend over,” he whispered in my ear, his fingers stroking the base of my spine, “I will prove it to you!”

Oh yes, he did go there. I kid you not!

Another friend, thoroughly disgusted, immediately walked away. I, with prosecco splashing about in my head, calmly smiled, recalling the lyrics to a favored song by Lauryn Hill: “…forgive them Father for they know not what they do…”

Eventually, I politely excused myself. I had risked and played outside my lines. The expectation of reward in the form of conscious coupling (yes, it can happen at a bar) was not met.

Still, the longer I live, the more I appreciate the old saying that it is not about the destination so much as it is about the journey; a reminder to me to not allow the expectation to dictate my motivation – to do and to be simply to do and to be. In Buddhism, as I interpret it, this is about the practice of non-attachment.

As I write, I recall these powerful words from the Bhagavad Gita that continue to serve me on this often challenging life journey:

“You have the right to your actions but never to your actions’ fruits. Act for the action’s sake. And do not be attached to inaction. Self-possessed, resolute, act without any thoughts of results, open to success or failure.”

These words take me to another powerful work, the Tao Te Ching, which humbly offers the following: “Do your work, then step back. The only Path to serenity.”

I did my work, and now I step back. One day, soon, I will choose to do the work (play at a fabulous bar) yet again. Regardless of the results, I will step back and then compose Act Two. And so it goes….