The Nestle’s Quik tin was kept in a corner cupboard and to reach it required getting up on to the counter. I don’t remember when we were allowed to make chocolate milk by ourselves but it must have been after Had, Dee and I stopped spilling milk at dinner.
At least weekly one of us was banished to the kitchen to finish eating alone. I can still see me and my red Captain Kangaroo cup shunned until dinner was over. Something about milk dripping through the slats of the dining room table drove Mom crazy.
One day while pulling out the chocolate powder I noticed a red wallet. Inside was a ten dollar bill. Obviously I had discovered treasure. Finders keepers.
A few days later Had announced he had been robbed. THAT WAS HIS WALLET?
I was mortified so of course I denied knowing anything about it. Apparently there was no doubt that Dee and I were innocent so interestingly the subject was dropped. I remembered thinking “phew, that was easy”.
Twenty years later, in a moment of pleasant sibling inebriation, I confessed to Had.
“Here’s ten bucks, I swear I didn’t know it was your wallet, don’t tell Mom”,
Even after all this time I was afraid of Mom’s reaction but assumed my secret would be kept.
“I can’t believe you stole that money”, Mom said. “I was sure Keath took it so he was never invited to stay here again”.
Cousin Keath, from Kentucky, was an Eagle Scout and why she ever thought him capable of theft still astounds me. He was excellent at building tree houses and making spears. A couple of convicts escaped from Comstock Prison that summer so the spears were protection when going upstairs to bed.
For a short time I thought I should apologize to him, but didn’t. Look where the last confession got me.
My exciting discovery and subsequent shame followed years later by a drunken confession and more shame still wakes me up periodically in the middle of the night. My action and non-action affected so many people. Had was sad. Mom was mad. Keath was confused. Dee was relieved not to be a part of the story.
Asteya and Satya are two of the five Yamas that remind us how to engage with ourselves and the world around us. These two encourage non-stealing and truthfulness.
“I’m surprised I didn’t realize you were lying”, Mom said. “Usually your face gets beet red”.
That did it. Those two Yamas became ingrained. (Mama’s Yamas). When I find money on the ground, or anywhere, I either leave it or give it to the next person I see. I’m not taking any chances at having my face turn the color of Had’s wallet.
Namaste- find a treasure, give it away.
Dee just reminded me that I could also stop the cassette player, flip the tape, close the lid and push play. She also reminded me that I need to do a better job editing. She practices Satya sometimes.
Had, Dee and I spent summer hours running on the gravel driveway. The goal was to toughen our bare feet to the point where no grimace of pain could be observed. This activity lasted for years until I turned eight. While comparing our toughened soles I realized with horror that my toes were frighteningly long. The more I examined them the longer they got. They were monkey like. No more bare feet or sandals for me. I was an anomaly.
One day at the beach my mom asked why I wasn’t taking my sneakers off. We rented a house with our minister, his wife and three boys that summer. No way was I going to be ridiculed. I had shells to look for and they could be sharp if stepped on. I was too embarrassed to admit the real reason until mom did what she does best and got the truth out of me.
Mom: “Didn’t you know that long toes are an Egyptian sign of good luck?”
Me: “Really?” (You are kidding right? was not inappropriate question.)
She changed my perspective. I not only returned to the challenge of barefoot running torture trials but honed my ability to pick up coins with my toes. By summers’ end I could hold a pencil and write my name with my foot.
Was Mom practicing Satya (saht-ya),truthfulness, or practicing creative nonfiction? To this day I have not checked Wikipedia to validate her claim and probably never will. She change my perspective by stating a fact as she knew it and changed my view. It freed me, that’s what truth does.
10 years later I visited a psychic and she said that in a past life I was an Egyptian king. Maybe my name Alexandra aided in this pronouncement maybe she glanced at my toes. Truth or creative nonfiction? Don’t care.
Namaste no shoes today!
I like being busy as much as I like sitting on the couch with a book. My to-do lists are long. My pile of books is big. Lists keep me organized and books keep me distracted.
Write the nieces.
Make up a dance about popcorn.
Vacuum the kitchen.
Plant some peas.
Check on IRS refund.
Think about a new business card.
Walk with Candy.
Plan another get-rich-quick scheme.
Teach 3 kids classes.
Teach 2 adult classes.
Some things on the list need immediate attention. Most of them don’t. Those that fall in the latter category are in bold. I like having a picture of things I have to do and reminder of things I’ll get to when I feel like it.
Horribly paraphrasing Stephen Covey in “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People”, there are 4 categories of stuff we have to do.
1. Important and urgent.
2. Important but not urgent.
3. Not important but urgent.
4. Not important not urgent.
Rumor has it we compile list #3 a lot whether on paper or in our heads. Put “I must, need or have to” in front of any of your (my) list items and it changes everything. It adds urgency where it may not be necessary. That’s being pretend busy.
And that leads to being so-stressed out, it’s no longer acceptable to be simply stressed, we need to be so-stressed.
At what point did being super busy or highly stressed become such a sought after human condition? When did we become inundated with talking about all the stuff we have to do ? Wouldn’t it be better to take the time spent mulling over our busyness and read Mad Magazine on the couch for a few minutes?
Don’t get me wrong. There are times I like making mountains out of molehills. I do that so others will feel sorry for me. They will cut me some slack for not completing my to-dos. The thing is they didn’t make up the list, I did.
Satya (saht-ya) the second Yama, is truthfulness. Be truthful to ourselves and others.
You: “I am so stressed out, I have so much to do before the weekend.”
Me (not practicing Satya): “I hear you!”
My reply intimates that I am as stressed and as busy as you. No way I’m going to admit that I’m looking forward to an afternoon with Georgia on the sofa. If you’re busy I am too. So I’m not being truthful.
Remember yoga is not just a physical practice, it’s a mental one. It takes practice to hone down our lists and focus on what is really important. Cut yourself some slack and redo your to-do list. What’s really important? What’s really urgent? Be truthful. What must you do today and what do you get to do today?
Breath in. Breath out. Repeat.
Namaste- Georgia and I are lying on the porch today!