faith in humanity

Sometimes working in a retail store makes it difficult to have faith in the goodness of humanity. I meet some incredibly rude and inconsiderate people whose behaviour puzzles me. I just don’t understand some people.

On the other hand, I also get opportunities to witness some beautiful acts of consideration, thoughtfulness and cooperation. Last week I found myself in a busy and often frustrating area of the store, lots of product, many choices, and often nothing that looks exactly like what someone is looking for. So I was trying to help these two customers who had similar needs, one with a very particular product in mind, another with a less specific need, but for a similar product. Nothing on the rack seemed to satisfy either of these people.

When I went to the stockroom in the back to see if we had anything more than what was on the rack I discovered that there were single packages containing two of just the type of product these two strangers were looking for. The first thought in my mind was “if they bought this together they would both be able to get what they want, separately they would probably both throw away the second item. Together they could save money, make less waste, and both go away happy.” So, with low expectations of how my idea might go over, thinking that they would probably never go for such a preposterous idea as buying something in cooperation with a stranger, I grabbed two packages and headed to the sales floor. I humbly presented my suggestion about perhaps splitting the cost of the one package. Neither one immediately jumped at the idea, but neither person dismissed it either. I stood back and waited to see what might happen.

After passing the package back and forth for awhile, a magic set of words came out of the one person’s mouth: “I’d be happy to split the cost of this with you, and you can have first pick of which one you want, I don’t really care which one I get.” I was surprised and delighted. In cities, instances of cooperation and generous sharing can be hard to uncover, but these lovely moments do exist. The two went up to the cash desk and shared the cost together, also surprising and delighting the cashier with this cooperative act.

I wonder sometimes if more of us had more faith in humanity, if we trusted each other more, that we might find that we encountered more instances of cooperation and community, bringing out the best in one anothe, rather than the worst. So maybe next time you have the chance to cooperate or be generous to another person but are suspicious and doubtful, try being more trusting and optimistic – you too might just be surprised and delighted.

learning to relax and kiss the rain

TofinoI spent last Wednesday to Sunday on vacation in Tofino with my family – mom, dad & sister. We decided that this year, instead of giving one another gifts at Christmas, we would take a vacation together, giving one another the gift of our time, the gift of shared memories. It was a really fantastic time. We stayed in a little log cabin on edge of the the shore of a sheltered cove. We listened to crashing waves, pattering rain, and our own crackling fire in the big stone fireplace.

Winter on the Pacific Coast is a fantastic display of the raw beauty of this rugged place. The fiercely huge waves and driving wind were vivid reminders of how powerful the natural world can be. Water was the dominating feature of every landscape we saw, from the majestic snowy mountains we climbed through to get to Tofino, to the rushing waterfalls at the feet of those mountains, to the ever-present drizzle or drive of rain, and then that breathtaking ocean as the culmination of this captivating world of watery chaos. I was overcome with awe and humility at the mirror-like beach of water-covered sand, at the huge waves, at the speed and unpredictability of the water as the ocean poured in closer and closer, reminding us of who/what was really in control of things as we explored the beach.

The most unexpected part of the journey was that I really didn’t know that it would be so difficult to relax. It actually took me a couple of days to really settle into relaxing. Perhaps if I’d left my computer at home, not brought any crochet projects, and abandoned all books, I might have relaxed more quickly. My biggest lesson in relaxation came when I had a massage on Friday afternoon.

During the massage I found it was very hard to completely let go of my body, let go of control. I’ve been learning lately about letting go in my mind, about allowing everything to be as it is, I have learned that one can’t actually actively “do” this, because it isn’t really a “doing”, it’s more of a “being”. And yet when it came to letting go physically, I somehow forgot everything I’d learned and tried to actively work on relaxing and letting go. My mind did a fantastic job – when I needed something to help with letting go, I sent it out to float in a bed of kelp in the deep dark green harbour across the street from the spa. But my body just could not figure out how to release control. This is something I’d like to learn more about.

I think the best I did at just allowing things to be as they were physically was the next day at Long Beach running down the beach in the cold wind, allowing the hail to pelt me, madly exploring through little trails atop a big cliff, not knowing where the edge was or where I was, drinking in the beauty around me, becoming so acutely sensitive to the particular place I was in, that every sense was heightened and every sensation magnified – like the faint but intense heat of the sun I felt as it broke through the clouds (like in the picture above). It’s like being next to a lover in that moment of intense arousal when each breath from their mouth blows across your body like a wind and each touch is like a thousand fingers lovingly kneading your flesh. So the wind runs its fingers through my hair and the leaves caress my hands, my fingers massage the damp moss and my lips gently kiss the rain. And in that moment I finally let go…

the fruits and vegetables that made me cry

firstvegetablesOk, so I have a confession to make. I have a new love. My new love will be arriving every Friday afternoon in a rubbermaid bin. My new love is fresh, organic produce.

For me, food is often an erotic experience. I’ve written about my love of food before, here and here, however, I don’t think those posts quite capture my deep love of sensual pleasures. My love of embodied sensual experience is the inspiration for the title of my blog erosophy and one of the main ways I experience the world sensually is with food.

You perhaps think I am a little crazy, and I probably am, a little. But I could not help myself, when my vegetable bin arrived for the first time yesterday, I was ecstatic. I opened it up and as soon as I started lifting things out, tears came to my eyes. Who cries over produce?! I’m not exactly sure why I had such an emotional response, but I did.

I think it was partly the beauty, the exquisite beauty of all of them. It was partly the anticipation, since I didn’t know what I was going find inside. It was the feeling of each item, cold, wet, dirty. It was the smell of dirt and farm that was still in the box. It was the feeling of having been given a precious gift.

This feeling of having been given a precious gift is one I want to feel more deeply, on an ongoing basis, in my life. In a deep, true way, each of those vegetables and fruits is a little bit of sacrament, a little bit of precious earth, taken for my own sustenance, held by many sets of loving hands before reaching mine. Food is one of the most basic elements and life, and therefore one of the most precious and holy elements as well. Just as life is sustained in making love, when we take holy food into ourselves it blesses us with nourishment and allows our lives to flourish.

So I took each item out of the box and laid it all out on the dining room table, so I could take it all in. Again I was moved to tears. I took pictures. I marvelled at the purple carrots and their 2-foot-long tops. I held each item to my nose so I could smell its aroma. I didn’t even think about what it would all eventually become, I just felt gratitude for their beautiful colours and textures and scents and flavours, for the perfection of each atom that makes up the complexity of a single fruit or vegetable.pomegranates

The most pleasant surprise in the whole box were the two pomegranates that I found hiding inside. Yes, I am easily amused. Yes, I can be a little emotional sometimes. But I would not trade a single moment of the awe and wonder I felt yesterday; for my soul was at rest in the perfection of the moment.

PS – yes, the pictures are of my produce and my pomegranates. You can get home delivery too, maybe you won’t cry, but maybe you will allow yourself to feel some awe and wonder, even for a moment, at the beauty of the earth: