Take it from me. Such unintentional alliteration is the reflection of a deranged mind.
I put on my coat and hovered by the door. I wanted to go to a little shopping district in town to take care of a few last gifts-- after all, my weekend is pretty much spoken for, and next week is Christmas-- but knew that if I did, I would walk to the headde* shoppe and get some cloves. Yes, I was in that bad a shape.
But I went to the shopping district anyway. And I went to the headde shoppe and picked up some cloves, and smoked one (for the shoppe is one of the last establishments left in NY where people can smoke in public) while I listened to the proprietor's story.
I hadn't seen the guy in years. He didn't seem to be doing so well. Turns out, he had been bitten by a recluse spider a few years back, and had nearly died from it. As it was, he was only now regaining the use of his leg. Like me, he is something of a workaholic, and had been very frustrated at not being able to DO. He was also concerned about this year's business-- because we'd had storms the last couple weekends, and they hadn't cleared the street (the shopping district is a pedestrian-only cobblestone street), his business was suffering quite a lot.
I listened and I listened and I listened. I learned that his little shoppe had been there since 1969. I learned some details about tobacco law. I learned quite a few things, really. And he got to get a number of things off his chest. He was in good spirits, he said, and was thankful that things were improving.
When I finally left to do my shopping, I shook his hand, wished him luck, and told him I'd say a prayer for him and his business. I then bought some nicotine-free herbal cigarettes, and asked if anyone wanted the cloves. When everybody there declined, took a couple for a rainy day and left the rest on the counter.
I'm not proud about falling apart at the seams and indulging in something I'd sworn off, especially so soon after making up my mind to give them up completely and forever, and after having publically shared that decision with the lot of you. I suppose I could simply never have mentioned my stumble, and nobody would ever pass judgement on me. But it isn't about judgement. What is, is. This is whom I am. And I'm certainly not perfect. Maya is a fetter, so why bother keeping up appearances?
If that conversation taught me anything, it is that it is important to be flexible, even and especially when one is weak. When is the lesson to be strong? When is it to be flexible? When is it something else entirely? Who says there's even a lesson?
I am not so bold or so blind to think that this grand and glorious universe exists for the sole purpose of providing me with the illusion of spiritual growth. And yet, there must be a reason why there is so much to learn here.
After our conversation, I was in better spirits myself. I went to the gifftte shoppe, and walked around the store with the wide, bright eyes of a child. I probably spent too much money, but I simply adored every small gift I purchased, laughed often, and felt like I had gotten at least a little something that each person still left on my list would appreciate.
In retrospect, I rather wished I had picked up a little something for the gent at the store. At least I gave him my business, and my time.
And I was the better for the exchange.
By the way, the herbal cigarettes taste like ass. Worse than ass, really.
Remember when you were young, and you dried banana peels and smoked them in the hopes of getting a buzz? No? Oh. Uhm, me, neither.
I bet if I did, however, ever do something as stupid as that, which of course, I never would, *cough*, the smoke from the fetid, putrid, rotting peels would taste a hundred times better than these things.
* Atrocious spelling intentional.