“Aussie, do you see a difference in me now when I get up in the mornings?”

“Not really. You’ve always been slow about feeding me.”

“I’m not depressed or anxious like I used to be, remember?”

“Do I remember! It was hard to talk to you for half the day.”

“That’s somewhat exaggerated, Auss.”

“So, what happened?”

“I decided to take anti-depressants.”

“WHAT! You, a Zen teacher, are on anti-depressants?”

“Bear with me, Aussie. I have felt depression and anxiety first thing in the morning for almost my entire life. It’s been a chronic condition for decades.”

“A Zen teacher on anti-depressants?”

“What’s wrong with that, Auss? It’s always been a struggle, and I would quickly get up and push it out of my mind. That worked to some extent, but the condition in and of itself never changed. Some months ago, I talked about it with my sister, and she, bless her heart, said: ‘You’ve been struggling with that for so long. You’re now 72, maybe it’s time to stop struggling.’ I talked it over with my doctor, she thought it was a good idea, and now I’m on anti-depressants.”

“And you call yourself a Zen teacher!”

“What’s that got to do with anything?”

“A Zen teacher should be able to deal peacefully with anything that comes up without resorting to drugs.”

“Who said, Aussie?”

“Nobody has to say it, everybody knows it’s true. Seeing the emptiness of all things, you know there’s nothing to really get upset about.”

“I wasn’t getting upset, Aussie. I would just open my eyes and the room would look dark—”

“It’s 6 am, for God’s sake!”

“—and I would feel this fear and nervousness overwhelming me. It didn’t matter what the plans for the day were, morning after morning was like that.”

“I bet you wouldn’t feel like that if you woke up at Mar-A-Lago!”

“Jeff Bridges, with whom I’m going to have a conversation on getting older on the Zen Peacemakers website (check out their Events), calls it the morning dreads. I’ve had them practically since I was born.”

“You’ve been meditating since 1985. What good has it done you?”

“No good at all, Aussie. The point is, this is genetic, it’s in the family.”

“Who cares? A Zen teacher should always be calm and have things under control, never have to struggle—and never have to take anti-depressants.”

“I can’t tell you how different my mornings are now. I come down and pet you, tell you how pretty you are, what a great day we’ll have together.”

“Now I know it’s Prozac talking.”

“No, Aussie, it’s me talking. It’s me without the depression, without the morning dreads. And you mewl happily and turn onto your back so that I could rub your belly.”

“No more. Now I know that you’re not the real thing.”

“The real what, Aussie?”

“Enlightened! If you’re enlightened, you shouldn’t need any of that stuff.”

“Aussie, sometimes it’s a matter of not enough brain chemicals or faulty mood regulation. If it goes on and on for years regardless of life situations, it’s a good alternative. What about what I take to sleep?”

“Oh, no. What do you take to sleep?”

“Aussie, I take pot to sleep.”


“I take half a gummy. I can’t smoke it on account of my asthma, but the gummies are wonderful. Don’t forget, pot is legal in Massachusetts, and my doctor recommended it. After I turned 70 my sleep regulation went out the window. I could be exhausted, unable to read or watch TV, but as soon as I lay down, I couldn’t sleep. She said that instead of taking sleeping pills, why don’t I try pot? It worked beautifully. Half a gummy causes me to fall asleep gently and wake up gently. Never exhausted, never sleepy, awake and healthy, and looking forward to a terrific day!”

“No Zen teacher should have to take pot to sleep, or anything for that matter. In fact, if you just put on recordings of your Zen talks, you’ll go to sleep right away.”

“Aussie, you know how many people I’ve told to get sleep gummies? You know how many people I’ve bought them for? And just between you and me, not all were in Massachusetts.”


“No no, Aussie, I simply share what I’ve discovered works. Look Auss, I want to enjoy these years, I want to enjoy my humanness. When I sleep well and don’t wake up with depression or anxiety, I can act much better in the world, things don’t hang me up like they used to.”

“I’m leaving home.”

“Why, Aussie?”

“I was so proud of living with a Zen teacher. Instead, I’m a drug dealer’s companion. What’s it going to be next, the Mafia? I’m outta here.”

“But who’s going to be my companion now, Auss?”

“Get yourself a couple of Rottweilers.”

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