Some days I have to remind myself that money is just money. My worth is not defined by how much I earn, but by how much joy I receive from giving of myself to others.
It’s a challenge to hold onto this “pillar of happiness” during those times when I can’t go on a vacation to Costa Rica with my friends, or when I have to buy new tires for my car, or this morning—when I got a speeding ticket for $256 going 40 in a 25.
I will refrain, with much chagrin, from defending myself here. (But seriously, I was flowing with the traffic, dude!) I can’t deny I felt very un-Zen-like when I had to let out a scream fit for a horror movie along with a few blubbering tears before I could pull myself together enough to teach my 10am class at Yogablu Studio. I felt wronged by the system that is meant to Protect & Serve; I felt betrayed by “the Man;” and indignant that all the cars in front of me had gotten away ticket-free. “Bad karma must be hot on my trail,” was my only explanation.
Smash-cut 13 hours later, here I am philosophizing about all the emotion one stupid speeding ticket stirred up in this “laid-back yogi.” (Seriously, you should’ve seen the banshee I turned into.) Now that I’ve calmed down, vented to my mother and felt some relief from her assurance, “The Universe is just telling you to slow down. Money is just money, it’s your health that’s important,” I have come to an enlightening realization…
Much of my sadness stemmed from a place of compassion.
I know what you’re thinking. What, compassion for an unsympathetic policeman? For someone who’s sole purpose is to impose penalties on broke-yet-hard-working drivers? Chastising the citizens who travel at a reasonable speed considering 25-mph feels like the equivalent of driving a golf cart down the highway? (Dear cops and their loved ones—please excuse my indignant stereotyping.) (Non-cops and their non-loved ones—You know what I’m sayin’?!
Welp, I shall explain from where a sense of compassion likely arose.
Her goal? To generate a social media movement designed to promote more acts of loving kindness—to ourselves & to others, with every unexpected encounter, with every otherwise-unremarkable moment. Encouraging us to document our experiences of positive action and reaction, of leading by example, and of releasing our own fears and insecurities in order to uplift everyone around us, #PassLove is a way to become more mindful of how we are interacting with the world.
Beyond the forefront of my immediate anger, within my more peaceful subconscious, there was a part of me that was longing to contribute kindness and compassion toward every person or circumstance that I encountered… Including cops who give me tickets.
Ughhhh, is this feasible?
The yogi in me says, Yes, this could be a reality. Part of the yoga practice is becoming an observer of all things that arise, within our minds or outside of us, so that we can learn to accept both the good and the bad with equal measure. With this practice, we become more prepared to accept hardship with grace and ease.
Part of my distress after encountering those flashing blue-and-red lights in my rearview mirror was from my own lack of ease and grace in accepting the situation. (The path toward inner peace is a long, humbling road, my friends.) But what I find more surprising, upon reflection, is that this afternoon I felt another urge to cry—this time, at the thought of how totally crappy it would feel to be that police officer during his encounter with me. Black eye liner pooling under my eyes, quivering bottom lip, cold glare without a word of, “Thanks, officer!,” or “Have a super-duper weekend!”… I’d probably have triggered a mini-breakdown in any innocent bystander who happened to pass by in that moment. So how must this policeman have felt when he handed me the ticket? (Let’s just say, Bleh. I’m glad I’m a yoga teacher.) Considering how many positive, uplifting interactions this cop must have in a typical day, I felt a deep pang in my gut to think I had certainly not helped to boost that number.
Perhaps this chance encounter was not some sort of bad karma hunting me down. Perhaps this was the universe giving me an opportunity to glimpse a way in which I can grow, of how I can continue to expand my reach of positivity beyond the yoga studio, beyond the obvious opportunities we’re given to express gratitude and kindness. It’s clear: the true test of selflessness lies in how we receive our “enemies,” how we respond to those who perceivably have “wronged” us.
I am grateful for Lora’s #PassLove campaign, and how it has created a shift in my perception that was just enough to allow me to understand better my own actions and reactions. Amazing: Just a little bit more mindfulness is sometimes all it takes to make a giant leap out of fear and into love.
I highly recommend you give it a try.
p.s. The photo of the sunset was taken from outside my apartment in Coquina Key. I may not live in a big house, but isn’t it true that there’s so much wealth around us in the non-material things? Just a thought…
As always, I welcome you to share your own experiences and stories. Are there moments that have challenged you, but in the end, taught you how you could become a more loving person? <3