Cover photo by Annie Spratt.


     Interested in building some muscle in the area of infinite tolerance, infinite love and infinite humility? Get a job in retail. I recommend it. Within about a month, you’ll start to get pretty buff. Yesterday for instance, I lifted a roughly 140 pound woman off of me before she trampled the place where my heart resides. I could just cut to the chase and say I became unwittingly entangled with a bitch yesterday, but some hours of reflection later it’s another ‘b’ word that best describes the experience.

Beautiful. Yeah, that’s what I’m calling it.

Photo by Ian Schneider.

Photo by Ian Schneider.

In my version of retail therapy, apparently the Universe, colluding to nourish my interest in this particular form of fitness, went to the supreme effort of bringing me a job offer, a retail job offer that is, without even having to leave home and without me even actually asking for one. Where I might once have headed for the hills with such an offer, the epic ease with which it all went down had to be a sign, I thought. And then I decided to stop thinking and simply say, yes. And thank you.  And I meant it.

Prayer flag merchandising. Perhaps this would help. Photo by Linh Pham.

Prayer flag merchandising. Perhaps this would help. Photo by Linh Pham.

The details aren’t important as to how it all went down. My newly minted job is as an interior design consultant with a very large, independently owned, super busy home décor store in downtown Peterborough. The owner of the store is a kind, decent bloke who seems to resonate with the Renaissance woman vibe his Google search of me provided. The staff is a lovely bunch too, and there’s a camaraderie that I, self-employed for ions, have found missing. So, “yes”, I said to myself. “You can do this. You can return to the belly of a beast you haven’t been in since you were 21”. Let’s just say, it’s been a while. My aching feet can testify.

Photo by Felix Dubois-Robert.

Photo by Felix Dubois-Robert.

I’d had my own successful interior design business for many years, running it concurrently with being a musician and a writer (and a foster parent, although adding that suddenly sounds over-the-top). Those artsy two inclinations, I was and am passionate about continuing to fund. I’d grown a bit weary of design, giving so many of my clients what they thought they wanted, when what I wanted to give them was their genuine selves back, a much deeper experience that design affords and that few are fearless enough to allow. In the wan pallor of neutrality expected as the signature of good taste in interior design, I allowed a colourful, soulful business to fade purposefully, mirroring my growing unease with it all. So getting back into it and in a retail environment at that certainly wasn’t on the radar.

Anyway, back to lifting those 140 pounds yesterday…

I’ll say that 95% of the clients I deal with are terrific. I try to treat them very well and in return, they do the same to me. But yesterday the do unto others method had a glitch, as it does roughly 5% of the time, I curiously observe. I’m interested in scratching the crusty surface of the enigmatic 5% who appear to view service workers of any kind, as a brain-dead void on which they can off-load their crap. Indeed, like cow-tippers, there are people who seem to enjoy the sport of throwing weight around without provocation. But why? The B-word rolls off the tongue as a good reason, but it’s too simplistic. It might be more accurate to say that they’re unconscious. Their lashing out is all about them – the dreck they can’t look at within themselves, the dreck we all have and must see for its illusion in order to cool our explosive jets. Containing all that searing, negative spew held in the unconscious is impossible long-term, and eventually it spurts out on whomever happens to be in unfortunate proximity. It’s simple physics, is all.

And yesterday as established, I got some on me.

Blaming cow-tippers for throwing their weight about is like blaming someone in full grand mal seizure for inconveniencing your day. So there’s that. But if I’m taking full responsibility for my experience as creator of it, because I’m all about that, then what was my part in energetically offering her spewing room? Darned if I knew in the moments it was happening, I can tell you.

Photo by Monoar Rahman.

Photo by Monoar Rahman.

But now I’m getting to the beautiful part.

Folks that try us, push our buttons, or downright do us wrong, are like a free gym membership with a personal trainer, unaware of the fact that they are offering such a service. They’re a blessing.  They show us what not leaning into our humanity looks like and how it sucks for everyone when we don’t.  They make it possible to build the strong musculature of our humaneness. Time and time again, they present us with a bunch of choices, these trainers, but the choice to be infinitely tolerant, infinitely loving and infinitely humble, always trumps seemingly more colourful, but much less effective retaliatory options. All because those three choices are the only real answer. Exercising tolerance, love and humility in all circumstances is the only way of being that shifts the shit once and for all.  So, while deepening my grasp on this each time it happens, it’s still back to the gym for me to tone up some more.

So come, come, come. Keep this kind of spiritual caffeine flowing until maybe one day, finally, we truly wake up and hold that thought, unwaveringly.



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