Monday, April 15, 2013

When things go awry

Every moment is the guru, said a wise person.

I believe that is true, and I want to look at the world that way; but that doesn't mean in practice that this way of thinking comes easily to me.

I've had some challenging days in the past couple of weeks. I unexpectedly lost easy access to the Internet after I used up the data on the wi-fi that comes with the flat. Then (thankfully, not at the same time) an ATM ate my debit card, leaving me with £3 in my pocket no way to get at the money in my bank account.

I do have a credit card...but what if it isn't accepted, or I lose it, or another machine eats it? It's just an emergency back up, and I'm going to be in London another month.

Compounding the issue, I don't have a cell phone with me.

The irony here is that I have swam against the tide in my resistance to being accessible any time, anywhere, by not having an international calling plan for my old, non-smart cell phone (which I hence left at home). And that works fine when I'm at home.

But there is no land line in this flat, and one cannot call international toll-free numbers via U.K. pay phones, and my bank only HAS toll-free numbers for customer service, etc., in a circle of frustration that is probably typical for anyone who has unintentionally but effectively rendered themselves helpless as a flipped-on-its-back turtle.

As it turned out, I got Internet access back in 24 hours, after using an Internet cafe to email my landlord...and a friend visiting me in London fronted me some cash...and my husband sent more cash via Western Union...and I found a way to email my bank to cancel my debit card and get a new one.

But in the meantime, I lost sleep over these things. I felt that awful, panicky churning in my gut that said I am in deep shit. My first thought was not about how this experience was my guru. 

I tried, though. I observed how the loss of these things—Internet access and cash—translated into a corresponding loss of security, even though I still had a place to stay, and food to eat, and people to help me when I got into difficulties.

I felt the peacefulness of being away from email or Facebook or posting to my blog. 

I reminded myself that I can offer myself my own security—not technology, not even money can take the place of feeling safety in myself. 

That I am always with me, that I could figure it out, that it would be okay. I tried my best to reassure and comfort myself. This isn't my special talent, but I got to practice it a lot over the past few days. 

And that in addition to my inner resources, I am blessed to have kind people in my life to lend assistance when needed. Including the sympathetic strangers at the effed-up cash machine who tried to help. I love you all and you are all my gurus, too. 


  1. What a great lesson. I need to remember this-- the other day I had an almost meltdown over my own issues. I finally went outside, stepped into a puddle with barefeet, sat under the shadow of a tree. It helps to focus on THE moment when having A moment.

    I'm so glad everything has worked out for you and I hope you're recovering for loss of sleep soon.

    1. All is well! This, I love: "It helps to focus on THE moment when having A moment." Pithy and so true. Taking off my shoes may have helped, if there had been a nice, un-urban puddle nearby. ;)

  2. That does sound challenging... and I was just having a conversation about access to money and the feeling of safety the other day. It can be work to untangle these. And I totally agree - every moment is the guru... and life - like the master - will whack us on the back and ask, are you present?

    1. Yes! An apt and humorous thought: Life as played by Mr. Miyagi in the Karate Kid. Being present is the great challenge, especially when you don't want to be....


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