Exactly one month ago at Thanksgiving I was ruminating on life’s sweet and sour lessons and approaching them from a neutral stance, i.e., lessons aren’t good or bad, they just are, and they are there for our growth. Now here I am at Christmas time with more lessons to share! Isn’t that too funny… the lessons keep coming and there seems no way of stopping them. Go figure. The lessons at this time of year can be merry and they can also be scary – we are repeatedly tested.
I can’t remember the last time I lost something important. I may get a little scatterbrained from time to time, and misplace things but I tend to find them and so disaster is averted. I learned to put my keys in the very same spot each time so I don’t run around like a chicken or a mad woman with her head cut off panicked because I can’t find my keys. I do every little thing I can to lessen stress and if that means I need to leave things in the same place each and every day, then I do it!
I’ve had a pretty good track record so far and I trace a time I had something major lost or stolen to almost 40 years ago when my sisters and I were young and careless and went on a little hike leaving the car doors unlocked by accident and our purses in plain view. That led to our father having to change the locks on the family house. It’s taken many years but I’ve gotten better at sincerely trying to slow down and be more mindful and I even blogged about it, but as chance and fate would have it my day of reckoning was on its way. I was going to be tested once again.
One recent week night, I was preparing to go to my favorite yoga/pilates class. I gathered my items at the back of my vehicle. I had a yoga mat, a yoga blanket, and a yoga bag! Plus, I had a separate bag I had used just minutes before while doing some cardio at a nearby gym. So therein lies a problem – TOO many bags! I am not called “the bag lady” for nothing ;-). Instead of carrying a big purse, I had thrown my phone, eyeglasses and car fob into a little canvas bag, in addition to all the other things I wanted to bring into class.
I eyed the little canvas bag filled with valuables and paused: should I take everything or should I try to downsize? “Oh heck with it, I will just stuff this little canvas bag into my other bag.” A little voice inside whistled and whirred like an annoying motor. “No,” I answered that little voice, “It will be fine! I will be fine. Everything will be just fine.” Famous last words as I gathered all my paraphernalia into my arms and made a beeline from the parking lot to the classroom. I made no detour!
I entered the classroom and made chitchat with the teacher and then took my place on the floor. For the next 45-60 minutes or so, I breezed comfortably through all the guided positions and stretches with no care in the world, until something came over me and I can’t really explain it. I pretty much jumped up in the middle of a pose sensing something was wrong. For some reason, I immediately zeroed in on my bag of valuables and looked to see if it was beside me. I looked in the yoga bag where I had stuffed it and it was not there. Did I drop it? I scanned the room, left the classroom, walked back and forth several times from the parking lot to the building. I looked in every nook and cranny in my car. I looked under the car; I looked on top of the car! I returned to the classroom trying to casually re-join in the middle of a Warrior series but I could not concentrate. I left again, and flagged down a Community Center employee who helped me in my search. Nothing, nada, zilch, zero.
I returned once again to the classroom and finally asked if I could interrupt and make an announcement: “I can’t find my bag! It has my car keys and my phone. Has anyone seen it? It’s brown and has little Eiffel towers all over it.” The bag had been a gift from a friend in Paris and I could describe it to a T, its color, size, motifs. I tried to be as optimistic and calm as I could, but a hint of desperation, worry, and panic of course lurked behind each word. The ladies looked back at me with concern and care in their eyes and I wanted to cry. I simply said, “Sorry to have bothered you. I need to go.”
The bag was gone I couldn’t find it anywhere. I felt defeated, hopeless, powerless and mad at myself. How could I have been so careless? Obviously, I dropped my bag on the short walk from parking lot to class and no one had turned it in.
Fortunately, I had the security code to get into my vehicle but no key to start it. I borrowed somebody’s phone and called my son to come help me because I had a spare car fob at my apartment. I did realize that there was a bright spot – I still had my wallet, credit cards and apartment keys safely squirrelled away. And I had a son in the area who could ride to the rescue! He arrived with his three little boys in tow and helped me to once again scour the area. We even checked garbage cans in case a thief had taken the phone and left other items behind, but nothing. A pall descended over me like a snarly net that I could not break free from.
Time heals and after a few days, I shook off the regret, the should have’s, could have’s, the what if’s, and the self-reprimands. I sought to learn from this. A police friend averred, “You have to be so careful.” I answered with my head hung a little low, “I know.” So yes, I have to be more careful and stop carrying so many darn bags. I know deep in my heart that if I had taken an extra moment to consolidate things, I would have been better off. Filing a police report, an officer shared: “there are still good people in the world.” I said I knew and agreed. Someone had found keys at the beach and turned them into the police station but they weren’t mine. I also thought about something else – all the millions of people in the world who do not have an expensive iPhone, $400 eyeglasses, and a $400 car fob to a nice Ford SUV. I count ALL my blessings and as I do I realized a few other things:
1 The iPhone has everything rolled into one – a camera, the internet, mail, video, contacts, photos, maps. It is my link to the entire world.
2 My car fob allows me freedom to come and go as I please; it gets me to work; fits my extended family, and is the means to go on driving adventures if I so wish.
3 My eyeglasses allow me to see the world with clarity, both near and far. I can’t go anywhere without them, so they are my key to the outside world as well.
These things, although important, precious and helpful, are material things. I actually can live without them – I might be blind, I might be stranded, but I can live! So without my connections to the outside world, what do I have? What or who can I lean on? Where do I find my rest and my repose?
I immediately turn to the Grand Architect of the Universe. This is where I find my source for solace, serenity, encouragement, centeredness, the peace that passeth all understanding, unconditional love. What is life without that? Not much of a life in my world. Without a connection to something deeper, grander, more expansive, infinite, illuminative, eternal, I find myself without roots or a rudder. I am being forced once again to look within to discover what counts. If it means losing expensive items to get the lesson loud and clear, I guess that is simply how it’s going to be.
May your Winter Solstice and Christmas be bright, your New Year’s incandescent, and may peace, love, and fellowship follow you each step of the way. Merry Christmas.