At night I lie in bed, unable to sleep. Worst-case scenarios run through my head—and then I remember that they’re not worst-case scenarios at all. I’m living them. My teacher died, our community has torn itself apart in his absence, and I’m 42, single, and still not totally sure what I want to do with my life.

Plus I have the prostate of a 70-year-old man, which is not as fun as it sounds. At night I pee in an old plastic mozzarella cheese bucket I keep by the side of the bed, because I pee a lot and the bathroom is too far down the hall. I mean, it’s not in another zip code or something, but the stone hallway tile is really hard and cold, and anyway, don’t judge me. One man’s sad little habit is another man’s life hack.

I live at and manage a city temple founded by my teacher 50 years ago. The halls are haunted by his absence. The place is full of ghosts. At night they all seem to take up residence in my room—in my head. I can’t stop worrying. Mostly I worry about how the temple will survive on my limited charisma and Cracker Jack insights. Who will want to come study with me? Is it my job to be spiritually impressive, to draw in new students, or is this just ego?

I never wanted to make a career out of Zen. I simply wanted to find a way to live. Making a living at being wise seems to come so naturally to some people. They write a few books, smile from a few lifestyle magazine covers, and suddenly they’re filling auditoriums. Bastards. I belong to a different class. Not a spiritual superstar, but not a freshman practitioner either. Not enlightened, but I can help a rookie upgrade her practice. I deal in small volumes of local dharma.

I’m a middle way manager.

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