Tuesday, February 11, 2014

2/12/14—Saying the Magic Word

Expanding on the thoughts I wrote about earlier in the week...about not taking things for granted and examining the things we focus on and those we don't to see where our priorities lie...I had another thought to add to the mix. 

I stopped by my local grocery store and heard the employees whispering about something. Apparently "he" was back and wasn't listening to what they said. Again. When I got to the checkout, I saw who they were talking about. A man was there asking for a receipt so he could return some things. He wasn't raising his voice or anything, but he was persistent. 

My checker told me he comes all the time and asks for a receipt so he can return things. But he doesn't have anything to return. And he didn't buy anything. She said when he doesn't find someone to talk to, he stands by the customer service counter and talks to himself. 

You could see it was really stressful for all the people who worked there and were being checked out. The man wouldn't let up. And he frequently changed languages when he was talking, so it was hard to understand him. They were being a lot more patient with him than I would have been. In fact, I found myself being less than compassionate because he was trying to take advantage of the store, and in a way that was making things difficult for everyone concerned. 

There are a lot of ways to get what you need. You can do it with honey. Or you can wear people down like water on rock. This man chose the latter and he wasn't starving, so clearly it worked for him. But it was hard work on his part, imo. In fact, I think even when done with honey, begging and being homeless is hard work. It might not be physically or intellectually demanding (though I suppose it could be) but the toll it takes on a person's emotions and spirit is a bigger price than I'd be willing to pay. 

I used to tutor recovering drug addicts (who lived homeless most of the time) in literacy and for their GED, so I have a little insight into how soul sucking that existence can be. When they were born they didn't say "I want to be a homeless crack addict when I grow up." It's a cumulative thing that happens as you make bad choices and then face worse and worse options in your life because of it. They're not proud of what it does to their families and what they've done to themselves. Most of them are so far gone they can't see a way out. These ladies I tutored were grateful for being legally compelled to get themselves clean. And even with that, at least one of them went back to the life. 

As a result, I find myself reaching inside my purse and helping random homeless people out from time to time. The way I see it, I'm tithing to the universe. "Tithing to the universe" is a practice I use to keep the flow of money going between me and the universe and also to help my karma. I give freely, without worry or judgment of what it's going to be used for. If I have money to give, I feel rich. If I can be generous, I feel even richer. And the richer I feel, the richer I am, because our thoughts create our reality. I don't always give to people in need, either. Sometimes I like to pay for the order behind me in the drive-thru or whatever. 

Anyway, I digress. Because even though that man was quite annoying to the people who work at the grocery store and even though he probably made a lot of customers uncomfortable, he gave me a gift—the gift of reminding me how grateful I am to be who I am, where I am today. I'm not mentally ill (at least not in a debilitating way...haha). I have a home and can afford heat. Everything is fully functional. I'm not hurting for anything. 

There are people out there with challenges we don't even understand. Something as simple as being sane and employed is a huge thing to give gratitude for. We focused some on where we live and the opportunities we do and don't avail ourselves of the other day, but how about going even more basic than that? When was the last time you consciously gave gratitude for a functional body, as achy as it might be? For a functional mind, as forgetful as it may be becoming? A warm home, though it might need a coat of paint? Or for your work, as crappy as it may sometimes be?

There's a term called "first-world problems" that refers to all the crap people of privilege complain about. Somewhere right in your neighborhood there's someone who would love to have your problems. Maybe their house is being foreclosed upon and their future is in question. Maybe someone inside is nursing a loved one as they lay dying. We often take for granted all the privileges we have, even when they're as basic as "breathing without help". 

Part of tithing to the universe or paying it forward or whatever you want to call the practice is giving gratitude for even the most basic of graces. Paying gratitude in advance is an even more powerful way of calling the universe to your side. I'll bet you could probably write 100 things you're grateful for in less than an hour. That right there is something to be grateful for! If you want to see your life magically brighten and bloom, just say the magic word more often—thanks. 

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