What do Donald Trump, a trip to Costco, and my dog have in common? More than you might imagine.
A strange confluence of events culminated this morning in a surprising, personal revelation. I’m in a session with a client who, like most of my clients this week, came in apoplectic over the recent election. We talked about the strong feelings of fear and disempowerment that are running amuck in our nation, and how difficult it is to maintain a calm, peaceful and positive energy in the midst of the upheaval. And then the conversation turned to a recent trip this person had made to Costco, where it was impossible for him not to notice the overwhelming percentage of shoppers there that were morbidly obese.
Now, I came into this early morning session freshly spent from crying over my beautiful Golden Retriever, Tucker, who at age 10 and close to a hundred pounds, has succumbed to crippling arthritis in his spine and who, last night, collapsed, his hind quarters non-functional. An evening trip to the vet informed us that this condition will not get better, and there is nothing that can be done. And I wept.
Where is this going, you ask? Somewhere good. Stay with me.
As I sat in this stew of sadness with my client, discussing these events, a beautiful beam of light entered the room, literally and metaphorically. As we reflected on this nasty bit of business called The Donald, I suggested that his presence in the national spotlight could very well be the spiritual and political clarion call that many of us, languishing in the great eddy of apathy, need to hear. Donald Trump may be the Hitler or Nixon that is required to shake us awake, dust off our values and hit the streets in support of all that is Just and True and Good. In this light, this human cartoon that is our President Elect may unwittingly be one of the great spiritual teachers of our time. How ironic is that? Strange days, indeed.
And what of all the overweight people at Costco, you ask? Here’s what my beautiful client told me. He said there was a time when he would’ve looked at those obese people and either completely disregarded them or judged them as gross and disgusting. He would have felt completely separate from them. But since he began exploring his own life in our work together, he doesn’t feel that way anymore. Instead, he saw how economic policies create conditions whereby truly healthy, fresh food is out of reach of all but the most well-off, how those in lower income brackets can afford only the worst sorts of food, high in carbs and fat and low in nutrition. And his heart broke open with understanding and compassion and love.
Talk about your spiritual awakening ….
As I bid my client goodbye at the door, I looked back at Tucker, who lay looking at me with sweet, brown, loving eyes, unable to stand up, and I thought, “There’s another great spiritual teacher.” And so he is; possessed of a great equanimity, steadfast in his devotion, joyful, uncomplaining, totally present, focused only on what matters: love and tennis balls.
Spiritual teachers and lessons are all around us, all the time. When we are awake, we see this. It is a great gift to have this vision, this perspective. It changes everything. We all need these teachers and their teachings. The world is desperate for we who are awake to reflect the continued presence and persistence of mercy, forgiveness, understanding, compassion, empathy, kindness, generosity, truth, peace and love; to help us all remember the words of another great, spiritual teacher, Mahatma Gandhi:
“In the midst of darkness, light persists.
In the midst of untruth, truth persists.
In the midst of death, life persists.”