Morning meditation immerses me in the goddess and her many guises – Our Lady, Avalokishteshvara, Quan Yin, Tara, Shekinah. She’s been with me since yesterday when she left me with the mantra “all will be well, and all manner of thing will be well.” Those words have been drifting through my mind-body-being.
80% chance of Snow today, at long last, here in Taos N.M. The season has been so dry, so sunny. I haven’t complained about it. I love the sun, but even I was beginning to feel parched. So before breakfast I decide to run out—twenty-minute drive there and back—to Smith’s to pick up some supplies before I hunker in with a fire in the fireplace and spend the day cooking comfort food and writing.
Smith’s has several self serve machines, which I sometimes use, when I only have a few items and don’t want to wait for a checker. Yesterday a friend said she always finds mistakes, with the checkers. So, though today I have two bags of groceries, I decide to use the self-serve to make sure there are no mistakes. (Arrogance on my behalf; what makes me think I am flawless?) There is an attendant there, for the self-serve machines, who is very attentive. He’s guiding me from a short distance even though I don’t really need his help. When the machine says I need his help, it’s a bit harder to get his attention. He finally comes to clear the bottleneck in the process saying, “she doesn’t like it when you use your own bags.” How unecological of her. But then “she”—the nice lady sounding voice in the machine, which comes with a photo of a nice lady on the screen, is actually Smith’s corporate headquarters, which probably doesn’t give a damn about ecology but only the bottom line.
So I proceed with my purchase and use my ATM to pay, and when it asks if I want cash back I think, better get some cash. Good thing to have on hand. You never know if you might have to sweeten someone to shovel your porch, or pull you out of a snowdrift. So I punch $40 cash back—the amount I pay for the purchase.
The thing about these machines is no matter how many times I’ve used them— sometimes without a hitch, sometimes with problems I think I’ve learned how to avoid next time—they always kind of unsettle me, uncenter me. I always feel a little flustered around them, not in my quiet mind that responds with equanimity and clarity.
My receipt comes along with the previous receipt and rather than dig for my glasses, I toss them both in my bag intending to sort them out when I get home. If the machine says, “don’t forget to take your cash” I don’t hear it. The place to pick that up is kind of tucked under where the receipt comes out and I walk away without my money.
When I get home and sort out the two receipts I realize my error and immediately call the local number to try to rectify it. The customer service guy says, “Oh, I don’t know what you can do about that. I guess you have to speak with the manager.” I decide to drive back to speak with a manager. Surely she will be able to remedy my forgetfulness. By now it is snowing and my plan to get all my supplies and not have to drive in the weather is dashed.
Interesting synchronicity. The same friend whose words echoed in my mind about the errors the checkers make at Smiths called as I was on my way home the first time. She said her husband had gone to Santa Fe on an errand that could easily have waited for better weather conditions. She too was planning to go out in awhile. I simply recognized the difference in character. They are ones who go outward, whatever the weather. I am one who tends inward when outer conditions are challenging. I don’t like being a sitting duck watching a car that has lost its breaks sliding toward me. Nor do I like that feeling of losing traction with the ground and sliding toward a bank. It simply registered as another way to be—to go out into the snowstorm.
So I go out in the snow, it is still light and there is no problem. When I get to the store the attendant who had been so attentive remembers me. “What did you forget,” he says as I approach him. I explain my issue showing him my receipt and he just shakes his head. “Somebody has already got your money, I’m sorry to say. You can talk to the manager.” It’s a strange corporate way of kicking the can, me, down the road in a way that gives me hope in a hopeless situation. A large woman, the manager, whose efficiency and authority I’ve always been impressed with, also apologizes. She can offer no rectification other than, “You can call corporate headquarters and complain about the machines. A lot of people don’t like them. They say it takes away our jobs.”
I’m coming to a slow boil inside, “forty dollars is a lot of money to lose, especially at this time of year.” Her expression is only vaguely sympathetic. She’s probably thinking, well sister if you are so cavalier about your money what do you expect. Or maybe I’m the one thinking that. I’ve never been very attached to even the idea of money. It’s kind of a necessary disturbance on this plane of existence, a pain in the butt really, having to spend so much time either drawing it toward you or expelling it from you.
I leave the store realizing I’ll get no more from these people, wanting to get home before the snow really starts to come down. I use my mind to settle my mind, trying to find something redeemable about my loss. Well someone just got a bonus I think to myself, at first with some resentment. I continue to pull on that thought and then recall my morning meditation and how Our Lady seemed to penetrate me. I saw how I can and do act as a comforter at times to friends and even casual encounters. I saw how the Holy Feminine could and does live in me—from time to time. I begin to turn my loss around—seeing it from her perspective—to someone else’s gain—someone for whom an extra $40 at this time of year might be a great boon, a special gift, a reprieve, a great relief. I don’t possess a lot of money. But I am able to see this occurrence not as my “loss” but rather a gift from the universe, to someone who will greatly benefit, perhaps more so than I will be deprived.
In Jewish thought, the highest form of giving is when no one knows who gives, and no one knows who receives. And so I settle my feelings and loosen my tight thinking that clings to the idea I’ve lost money. In the broader reality we live in a cosmos where there are not winners and losers, gains or losses, but only an ever generous flow and exchange of energy. It is all a gift. Whoever received a bonus $40 today, I wish them happiness and grace, and I pray they use their boon for perhaps a gift of something warm and snuggly for a child in this snowy season.