Rita Robinson is the Associate Editor of Radiance. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I had a friend, I’ll call her Grace.
Grace let me put some boxes of memorabilia in her storage unit. At first, for free. Later she asked me for $20 a month. Fair enough.
Then she said she was taking an extended vacation to Eastern Europe. I gave her a check to cover six months.
At the end of six months, she emailed. She’d fallen in love with a local and was staying in Istanbul. She didn’t know when she’d be back. She demands that I pay another six months in advance.
I don’t want my things stored there indefinitely. It’s mostly photos of my daughter growing up, Halloween costumes I made for her, childhood keepsakes. Precious.
Another friend of mine says I can put the boxes in his second garage for free. I email Grace and say I’d like my things back. She says NO, she wants the six months deposit.
My free storage friend suggests I get an attorney to fight it, an expensive proposition.
More months go by. I say I’ll pay her $200 just to get my things out. She says NO, I just have to wait until, when and if, she returns. Now I owe her $580.
Before having a consistent spiritual practice, I would’ve instantly gone victim, belly up. Now I meditated and chanted. Another friend who has a healthy spiritual practice says to tell her I’ll meet her in small claims court. What?
That’s a shocker to me. He said the Shakyamuni Buddha had a cousin, Devadatta, who was jealous of him, and constantly attacked him and even tried to kill him.
Shakyamuni regarded his cousin as a boddhisattva, a teacher, who would make him stronger, although sometimes Shakyamuni did have to reprimand his cousin and put him in his place occasionally. Also news to me. I was told to be gentle but firm.
I continue meditating and chanting. The thought drops in to contact a highly successful attorney I know who is offers free legal aid services. Perfect.
She suggests telling Grace that keeping my possessions is a serious matter. Grace hears this and drops the price, but not enough for me. I keep practicing. I contact the attorney again.
She says to tell Grace that I will go to every extent of the law to get my possessions. I hit the send button, feeling an interesting show of strength.
Grace replies: “Rita, You don’t have to use legal means to get your belongings back. I will gladly oblige. Thanks, Grace.” Thanks? Wow.
Not only did I get my boxes back, Grace ended up giving me, practically making me take, her expensive street bike. She wanted me to take more. She asked if I would help her move some things to the Goodwill. I agreed.
I got my belongings, didn’t pay her a penny and gained a bike. I would have never imagined a win-win, a real victory.
I’ll probably never see, talk to or email Grace again. I imagine she’s happily living somewhere in the Slavic land with her sultry sultan. She probably feels lighter in this life having donated all those belongings, and certainly freer without my baggage.