Stories From Paradise

Having Enough

I arrived at my house to rush through a few things. Focused, I absentmindedly checked my mental to-do list: errands, payments, purchases, adding a few things to the list for my helper and cleaning woman like taking the laundry from the line before the afternoon thundershower kicked in. I found her in front of the washing machine.

Normally a happy person, I could see she was sad that afternoon. Her lower lip started to tremble when I asked if she was ok. She shook her head in that sort of Indian yes/no shake roll and then started to cry. I gave her a hug, feeling the softness of her big body against mine, the fresh clean smell of her hair, her shoulders gently sobbing against mine. I told her everything would be OK, like we do when, actually, we have no idea and stayed with her for a while. When I let her go, I asked again what was wrong.

“I don’t know really”, she answered and then told me she was depressed and couldn’t understand why continuing with, “I have everything I need, my family, my house. I have work. I have everything but sometimes I am still depressed”.

I looked at her in wonder. I know her house: 2 rooms and a bath where water leaks in when it rains. Her kitchen is a counter in the front room where she has a gas burner for a stove. There is a space where the washer used to be in the small backyard but she hocked that around Christmas when money got tight. She has 4 children ages 2 to 16 that live with her from 2 different men who are not around on the good days. She is about 32 and works for me cleaning. More recently she helps me in the yoga reception. Her English is good and she studies to improve. She does my Excel spreadsheet and is industrious and trustworthy. And she makes the equivalent of $25 to $30 US a day.

And she has everything.

I thought about it, amazed. Just before I arrived I had been talking with myself how I would manage to pay for what I need. Unlike Chris, I don’t have everything. I need air-conditioning in my new loft spaces. I need new face cream with sunscreen. I need to have the dogs bathed. I need organic chicken and new yoga pants. I need more people in my classes. I need. I need. I need. Some days it becomes my mantra. And it does not make me happy or peaceful or content. Yet my employee and friend who will never have half of the material possessions I have, has everything.

I slowed down, told her to take the afternoon off and not go home right away, suggesting she go to the park and sit for a while, breathe and relax. We joked about how to say, “take the long way home” in Spanish as I paid her and went to clean my mom’s room myself. She took my clothes off the line to protect them from the rain, regardless, and then happily left. Her depression had passed.

When she left and I looked around and, before I chastised myself for wanting more, allowed myself to instead notice that I have more than enough. I changed my mantra: I have. I have. I have more than enough. Try it.

Breathe into it and repeat it until you believe it is true. Because it most likely is.