Freedom at the Supermarket

Written in February of 2007 (the edited version):

It was a Thursday afternoon. The house was empty of most our common essentials: milk, eggs, bread, fruit and juice, and I wanted some extras.  I went to the grocery store. I had $29 in the joint checking account and $59 in my checking account.  This being my “reality” I wondered if I should have gone to the other grocery store where the prices are cheaper and the products mediocre. I stayed. I would divvy up the cart, putting all the items I would buy with our joint account on one side, and the items I would buy with my account on the other side.

This particular store has a gift section that sells candles, cards, and various decorative items for the home. I needed ribbon for my daughter’s Valentines Day cards we were making that night. I saw some pink ribbon for $2 I thought that was okay. I looked at other ribbon that was prettier with more variety and color. These ribbons were $5. I stayed with the pink.

At the produce section, an organic pineapple caught my attention. My mom just brought us 6 from Maui and I wanted more. It was on special for $4.99. I passed it by, but I really wanted it.  Instead, I did my usual blueberries for $2.99, and then grapes for $2.99 per pound. I passed on the Clementine’s for $7.99 and the organic bananas because I just wasn’t in the mood.  Then I went back to the pineapple, and put in on my side of the cart.

At the dairy aisle, I got the store brand cheese that was .20 less than the name brand, but it’s a fancy store, so obviously not generic. I picked up the orange juice, the milk, and wondered if we needed butter. I was glad we didn’t, and grabbed the store brand eggs.

At the aisles of packaged goods, I got the snack crackers the girls like for lunches, the bread my husband likes, which is large, cheap, and saturated with high fructose corn syrup (that went on our joint account side). On my side went the whole grain bread without the high fructose corn syrup.

Now, the deli section freaked me out. I like Boar’s Head, which had begun to feel like a luxury. I decided to get some turkey and havarti cheese anyway putting it on my side since I had the most money to spare. I breathed a sigh, hoping I would get to the check out and have enough money.

All lines were full. I went to the aisle with the nice middle aged man thinking he would be the less likely to judge me if I had to give up the Boar’s Head. You see, this was a new experience for me at the grocery store. The only other time I came close to this kind of apprehension was when on welfare as a single mom and used food stamps at a grocery store in a prestigious suburb of Minneapolis.

I told the man there would be separate transactions. The first transaction came to $21 so I handed him the orange juice, which left our joint account with $4. The next transaction came to $49, leaving my account with $10 to spare. I left the store knowing we would be okay.

There was a time I had money, an inheritance I received when I was 25.  I used the money to live on while I raised my kids. That money ran its course. I have come from the belief that money is freedom. When I had money I would go into the grocery store and throw whatever I wanted in the cart, never looking at price. The mediocre store I thought about retreating to would have never crossed my mind. I always went to the “fancy store with carpet” as my husband calls it. Making these kinds of choices was freedom to me.

I had so many choices and could choose it all if I wanted to. I could get what I wanted and maybe not even eat it. I could experiment with new items not knowing if I would like them. I could get a couple of options of lunch meat.  But, did any of this make me more free?

My freedom then was an illusion under the guise of having money. As I walked through the store consciously choosing what I would buy, what it would cost, and what side of the cart I would be putting it on was a new form of freedom. Inner freedom.  I did not grieve for the life I once had where I bought what I wanted and did what I wanted, because the truth is I didn’t know what I was made of, what I could handle or how I would handle it.

Back then a similar woman in my situation I may have frowned upon, not realizing that she is more free than myself- the one with money. Not having a lot of money makes me pay attention to every choice, in ways I never did when I had it. Why pay attention when you think you have more than enough? The freedom I found in the grocery store, was actually one of my richer moments.

Lesson:

Accepting our situations allows strategies and solutions to what otherwise would make us feel imprisoned by them. Accepting and allowing IS freedom.

>The Pursuit is All the Same

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“It is because we don’t have any real challenge in life that most of us do not grow to our real height. We need a challenge that is worthy of our capacities, and making money, if I may say so, is not much of a challenge. Neither is becoming famous or achieving power.” ~Eknath Easwaran

This has been the thought of my day. I read it in a daily passage book, Words to Live by, by Mr. Easwaran. What he does believe is the real challenge worth moving toward, is becoming rich in personal relationships, learning to return love for hatred, and always being aware of the unity of life. These he says are the most difficult achievements on the face of the earth.
Here is another thought of my day. From Wynonna Judd, “Money is nice, she said, “because it gives you choices.” A nice choice she has thanks to money, is living with her family on a one-thousand acre ranch. They call it Peaceful Valley, and it is amazing. I put myself in her shoes, taking my little golf cart to the lake where I sit in peace whenever I want. Where I can take a couple minute drive to visit my mom, and have a holiday or weekend meal with her. I want that, my inner self cries.

Wynonna has gone through her own personal pain, but one thing, at least in my mind that she doesn’t have to worry about is money. She has it, and therefore has choices that others who don’t, don’t. One of those choices is the gift/luxury of learning about oneself. When we are always thinking of money, bills and basic necessities we often don’t think of those higher and deeper aspirations within us. This goes back to Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs- Self-Actualization being at the top.
So, what does what Wynona said have to do with what Eknath said? Well, in my mind, at least in the beginning of the day, these two ideas seemed in conflict. When I read Eknath’s statement, I had a sort of smug response. Yes, this is why my life is so hard, but I might be better off because I do not pursue those superficial tendencies for wealth and power. I go deeper. It’s more complicated down there, but my “achievements” will be greater and more substantial.
But when I heard Wynona, I couldn’t agree more. And I want money, especially now.
Perceived conflict always leads to a process. Here’s mine- money does give choices, but ultimately it is we, ourselves who give choices and our outer circumstances do not matter. If we don’t have enough money, it is our choice to make more. Having money, or pursuing money is not the most noble. I am sure we can all agree there. Pursuing our purpose and releasing our talent is more noble, and often money will come from this pursuit. And finally no matter what we do, whether it is to pursue money or power or our purpose, the ulitmate pursuit drives it all. The pursuit of Self-Realization. The pursuit of Inner Freedom. The pursuit of enlightenment.
This pursuit goes on whether we are conscious of it or not, but if we are- we will understand that all of our desires, all of our pursuits are to bring us closer to that love, which overcomes hatred; to that unity; to richer relationships with ourselves and others. By understanding this we can achieve balance in our material and spiritual worlds. We need money, yes. But, we are here for much more than creating material wealth. We are here to recognize our spiritual wealth, and to offer it to others.
There truly is no separation. It is all one. We are all one. And gosh, I hope this made some sort of sense.
Namaste,
The Soul Reporter

>Do not Allow your Life to Move in the Ordinary Way

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I have been feeling restricted in my finances for quite some time. When I didn’t feel this way, I felt restricted on the inside, with little depth and gripped in fear.  Now, inwardly I feel full and secure.  The Voice Inside says: do not allow money to push aside the truth of your Being.  Bring the Being-ness to your finances and allow it to flow in ever sector of your life.  Your expansiveness determines your life, not money- or the perceived lack of it

Take it from the Voice. It knows.