Oh, the snow! It will be quite some time before I become weary of it I think. There’s just something so intrinsically peaceful about it. It seems to soften the outside noise and really allow one to focus on their inner dialogue. Today is the third round of snow we have had since I’ve been here and it is forecasted for almost every day this week, ensuring a true white Christmas and an opportunity to do what you are supposed to do this time of year; retreat within and nurture your inner light.
With the flu bug behind me I have been busy, busy around here. Thus far I have learned to care for the peacocks, assisted in the (future) acquisition of a new truck and learned many of the policies and procedures such as picking up the food order, checking guests into the Dharmasala and helping in the Puja Dukan (gift shop).
A particular theme for me over the last week is the realization of just how limited resources are here. There are no malls, no retail, chain or box stores, no department stores other than the obligatory Wal Mart, a Tuesday Morning and an Ace Hardware. There are no car dealerships and no real fast food restaurants aside from one set of golden arches. Sounds wonderful, doesn’t it? Now let me tell you how that translates.
This is not the land of materialism and waste, that’s for damn sure. More than one person has compared New Mexico to a third world country, and I get it. Want a new pair of shoes? You have two options – pay out the ass (read – tourist prices) or go to one of three consignment stores. Now, I came from the land of indulgence apparently because I recall shopping at a local Good Will and being tickled pink with the large selection of leather jackets, all for $10 each. Not here! The price for a used coat in Taos is the same as the retail price of a new coat in Dallas. So far I have ordered wool socks from China over the internet (they should get here by Spring) and paid $30 for a pair of used, wool, slip on shoes. And not to sound snooty, but I have never worn, let alone purchased, a stranger’s shoes.
Two of the younger girls here at the temple invited me to go shopping with them and I was delighted to be included. One of the consignment stores has a section called The Giving Tree which provides those in need with clothing and such free of charge, and let me tell you – these girls shopped it, seriously. Now, I am one to shop Good Will and am all about repurposing, reusing and recycling, but the majority of the clothes that were available were akin to what one would find at the end of a garage sale. While they rummaged through it all I became acutely aware of my inner dialogue and mounting conflicts.
The reality is that I am so very blessed. I have everything I need and truthfully, always have. To take something from this place, to me, felt like I was taking something from someone who was truly in need. I flashed back to all the perfectly good clothes I gave away just a few short months ago, just for the sake of having less. Then I remembered all the clothes I left behind and again was humbled in gratitude for the many blessings in my life. Yet, I was with the girls and, honestly, was not entirely sure that my attitude of gratitude was not my ego being a snob in disguise, so I made a point to find a few useful things such as a small jewelry box for my earrings and a long sleeved, button up, 100% cotton shirt.
The obtuse lack of resources was again emphasized in the searching for a new farm truck. Where there are pages and pages of Craig’s List adds in Dallas there is virtually nothing for the entire state of New Mexico. This makes buying a vehicle quite a process because it requires traveling out of the state, and while my day trip to Colorado Springs (and Santa Fe) was a lovely scenic adventure, it was rather disappointing to spend 10+ hours in the car to return with nothing – not to mention being that close to Pike’s Peak and not have the time to experience it.
Total side note – Downtown Colorado Springs has a rather hip, college town feel to it that was nice to witness, but the real treat for me was the outside skating rink! Again, just like something I have seen in the movies – people in their hats and mittens skating around, outside, in the middle of the day, in the middle of downtown! Nifty cool!
Ok, sorry – back on track!
So what’s the lesson? I came from a place where (some) people do their best to be mindful of resources and nifty catch phrases reminding people to repurpose things is a hip jargon to speak. Here, people live it – and they do so because they have to. The result, by my estimation, is a stronger sense of community, a genuine mentality of gratitude and a fierce connection to, and reverence for the planet.
In the reflection of my own inner light and truth, I can acknowledge that I have, in the past, talked the talk and am now being shown how to truly walk the walk. With each day that passes, I feel as though I lose a few more societal imprints and am constantly challenged with the release of my perceptions from such, but my new (used) shoes are warm, comfy and serve their purpose of a quick and easy removal without any attachment what-so-ever.