I live in Totnes which is a small town in Devon comprising of about 7,000 people. Totnes is famous (among other things) for being “The funkiest town In Britain”, for being “a town full of hippies”, for having more qualified therapists per square mile than any where else in the country and for starting the inspirational and now world wide Transition Town Movement, supported by the nearby Schumacher College based at Dartington.
Many people hear of Totnes and come to visit but it can be hard for them to find what they are seeking because Totnes is comprised so much of theory and process. Its a bit like Hogwart’s school of WitchCraft and Wizardry with many practitioners plying their trades and many other people just going about their business. Hard to see magic or angels happening on the high street- better to sign up for a course or session. But it can be a bit overwhelming. In truth I undertook more spiritual exploration when I lived in Milton Keynes, because Milton Keynes was so down to earth that it gave me something to react against.
It is understandable that sometimes I find that living in Totnes is a bit like being in a spiritual theme park or a full time festival with so many different opportunities for spiritual / personal development and to play- that I don’t know what to try next. For a while I also thought that I had no right to ply my trade as an angel channeler and healer, because everyone else was ‘so much more advanced’. For me too much choice led to a state of procrastination and paralysis- and I also fell prone to ‘New Age Inertia’, by allowing myself to be like a piece of flotsam wandering around dreamily waiting for ‘signs’ from the universe of where to go next. This was instead of planning, navigating the spiritual and material and being productive and giving to the world. After this state of affairs continued for two years naturally (I think) Spirit became impatient, but I was jolted out of my inertia in the most creative gentle and humorous way, through an interaction that I had with my local freecycle group- and here is how:
Freecycle; Its a club with rules and you will need to join to participate and if you don’t already know it, is country wide system of free local area based internet based exchange of (mainly) household goods (try googling it if you like there is bound to be one in your area, or perhaps set it up if not), designed to reduce the pressure on landfill sites by allowing people to give their unwanted goods away.
It works like this:
Put it simply, a child outgrows a cot- the parents or carer list the cot as an ‘offer’ on freecycle and someone in the neighbourhood with a baby about to grow into a cot responds to the ‘offer’, and if their bid is successful will then collect the cot free of charge. When I upgraded my old fridge instead of taking it to the skip I advertised it via freecycle and it quickly went to someone who didn’t mind its general shabbiness because it still worked.
As well as listing ‘offers’ it is also possible to list ‘wants’. When I decided to wash my dogs lead and didn’t detach the chain and thus destroyed my washing machine to the extent that when I opened the door bits of machinery fell out, I advertised a ‘want’, and gained a new washing machine, old but functioning from someone about to move house who didn’t want to go to the trouble of listing it in the local classified ads.
I also love being part of freecycle because different stories come into my in box every day- like this one for example listed as an Offer:
‘Comfy armchair, removable covers recently washed and dyed orange. – Dartington……
‘I have an old but comfy armchair I no longer need. Covers are removable
and washable and good condition, recently dyed orange. It’s on four casters, one a bit broken, could be fixed but I used as is’.
I can just see that old arm chair in front of me – that has provided many hours of comfort and heard so much- starting to look the worse for wear- so the owner tried to make it better by dyeing it orange, and ok, one castor may be broken but its still deserving. Surely someone out there could give it a home and love it. I also like the innate generosity of freecycle and the fact that it helps me to live abundantly and without fear. Freecycle has helped to finance the writing of this blog, by providing my son with a bed, plus a ‘new’ sofa. It can also be a representation of a loving community, often I read wants on behalf of others- “friend has moved into a new house and needs everything… And people ask so nicely, “sorry its such a large want but does anyone have a horsebox that they don’t need?”
Any way going back to my doormat story-
Recently I needed a new carpet for my study/office and some one advertised as an ‘offer’ a piece of ‘green grey quality Axminister carpet, to which I joyfully responded “yes please” without asking any details or giving any caveats. The piece of carpet was located in Torquey in a house over looking the sea. However, when I (eventually) found the house the carpet didn’t meet up to my expectation, far from being ‘quality Axminister’, it was in fact old and no longer ‘quality’- its owner told me that he had had it rolled up in the dining room for 20 years whilst he had been renovating the room. It was completely threadbare and unsuitable.
I of course didn’t hesitate- here was the carpets owner, full of joy both at his own generosity and about to be liberated of the roll of carpet blocking his stairs and a very nice person as well. I just didn’t have the heart to scupper his plans- besides which I had already accepted it previously and couldn’t now break my word.
So I responded with “Thank you- its a wonderful carpet- just what I was looking for”. Then we loaded the carpet into my car and I drove it away. When I got home, filled with dismay I didn’t even take it out of the boot – I just left it there. Flash forward another few days- another freecycle ad arrived in my in-box “wanted carpet for project- condition not important”. Perfect synchronicity. A bit of correspondence later plus some mobile phone calls and two more days go by. Eventually I took half an hour out of work to meet with Amber (who had placed the wanted ad) and her friend outside Drift Record shop on Totnes High Street. I heard about Amber’s new and interesting project for young people that needed the carpet as we walked to the car to retrieve it. I was glad that the carpet was going to a new home. It was quite a large roll and took two people (Amber and her friend) to carry it back into Totnes balanced on their shoulders. The last I saw of the carpet was it silhouetted against the sky line, being walked purposely into the distance.
Later I realised that I had created an expensive (given that I was counting every penny) piece of drama and street theatre unnecessarily. And at first I was quite amused by the drama. I told a few people about it as a story and we laughed at my eccentric predicament, and my ‘niceness’, in that I hadn’t been able to say no. I was shocked at how many people were amazed at my lack of assertiveness and said “No way would I have done that”. But then I had an insight, I got the ‘sign’, or the message from the universe when the world split open slightly and I heard my guides say lovingly and with amusement in their voice- “That’s you, You were that doormat”. For a moment I was hysterical with laughter- as the realisation hit me- not only was I a door mat I was as big a doormat as a giant roll of carpet.
And I got it in one flash – The insight that it was not authentic of me to have been so dishonest because I did not want to hurt someone’s feelings. In protecting them I was being untrue to my self and engaged in deception and this wasn’t for the first time. It wouldn’t have been so painful if in the first instance I had put a caveat on the tranaction and said:
-” I would love to look at your carpet, but may I reserve judgement on it, as it might not meet my needs- I will let you know at the time”
This was not a harsh universal lesson for me- as usual I was protected and it was quickly resolved- thanks to Amber. But through this perfect little scenario and thanks to the loving message of my guides I was gently given several areas for adjustment some of which were quite serious:
1: Not to make blind promises without putting caveats in place, checking out and securing the facts,
2: Not to then lie in order to prevent hurt,
3: Not to create unnecessary drama’s partially for my own amusement and love of good stories (could be hurtful for the original owner),
4: My friends may indulge me- but spirit doesn’t.
5: Behaving like a piece of flotsam gets you nowhere. Its not ok to just drift and not purposely impact on ones destiny. There is much to be done.
My letter to the universe: “Dear Universe, I promise to make necessary adjustments and be authentic and truthful in all encounters even if it does cause pain. I will try at all times to act from a place of loving kindness that does not involve deception.
I promise to be more productive and steer my own destiny, I promise not to judge my self too harshly and learn my lessons with gentleness. Thank you for your humour and the learning. I promise to no longer act as though I am a giant DOORMAT!”