Happy Monday everyone!
Today I welcome a guest on the Manicheans, Dennis Sheehan. Dennis has quickly become a very good tweep of mine. He’s a true New Yorker, but has lived in China and Russia for over twenty years, and his book “Purchased Power” is on my to read list.
Without further ado, I present to you his post. Enjoy!
A Creature of the Night, an essay by Dennis Sheehan
I remember fondly the dark, smoke filled places where I spent much of my time. The acrid smell of stale beer and booze emanating from the old wooden floors is still in my nostrils. I remember the feeling of sliding up onto a slightly sticky bar stool, thinking comfort when my elbows hit that long wooden plank called the bar.
As many of the others in such places, it was my escape. The darkness and loud bass beat of the music was a stark contrast to the fluorescent light and subdued whispers of the office. I could be anything I wished here, my conversations were casual, my stories were always accepted with a pleasant smile; I could be me and my relationships here were dispensable.
I could enjoy my life as I wished, if I was not getting a good reception from my new group of friends I could simply move on to the next joint and find a group more suitable.
Over time I realized that my life was there, in the night, in these wonderful places with wonderful people. I didn’t dream all day about it but in the dark recesses of my mind I knew the days were only to fill in time until I could be me.
In the beginning, the only downside I found was the realization that it was a little more difficult to get out of bed in the morning, and that slightly nauseous feeling would go away by noon. This was a small price to pay for the excitement of the night.
I waited each day in anticipation of who I was going to meet that evening, where I would go, I would dream about the adventures I would encounter. I was successful at work, it really didn’t interfere, and that feeling of anticipation got me through those boring afternoons where tedium had replaced productivity.
I shared the night with like minds, those seeking happiness through social interaction. My relationships were perfect, every encounter a study in conversation, love, sex and joy, although they very rarely lasted more than that night. It was like I was living through an exquisite glimpse of time with people who were doing the same.
We lived in the illusion of happiness in these small, dark and loud venues of love and personal relationships, which had been somehow strategically placed throughout every city.
Once I had gained acceptance into this wonderful environment of frivolity, I knew I had the world where I wanted it. When then out of the blue, it started to become more difficult to get up in the morning, the realization hit me that I was losing it. I no longer felt slightly nauseous, I wretched each day before work, but it still was a small price to pay for the key to happiness.
This problem became more serious when I started to become drunk earlier in the evening. That was quickly solved by one of my friends, a bartender. He had given me a small vile of white powder with instructions to snort it. This miraculous powder solved so many of my current problems. I never appeared drunk, I was wittier and the best, I no longer required sleep. Lacking the need for sleep, I now had more time for conversation, love and sex. As I remember it the sex was great, although my partners generally left before I found out how they enjoyed it.
My life was back on track, my career was going well and my nights were fantastic. There were, however, some problems along the journey into happiness.
I recall an incident where I had a business meeting in San Francisco. I received the tickets the morning I was supposed to leave. It was a fact that I had 6 hours to get to the airport and that was not enough time to get anything accomplished at work, so I went to a favorite watering hole and constructively spent the time with friends. I remember waking up on the plane as it landed, not in San Francisco but in Tokyo.
I called the clients, and I rescheduled. Now I had 2 days in Tokyo and thought it might be nice to check out Japanese nightlife. My memories are only that I do not like Karaoke and the entertainment was about ten times more expensive then New York.
It had to be more than a year from my visit to Tokyo when I realized one day that there had to be more to life than clouds of euphoria interrupting the stark realities of the day.
I wondered how adventurous it would be to take those realities head on without the buffer of the comforts of the night. Difficult at first, I started to realize a very important reality.
Happiness comes from within. It is hard to find sometime but once found it is sublime.