I've scribbled the alphabet for meaning since I can remember.
4 Coats: A Lesson on Enough
A little bit of a story....
I moved to Hawaii six years ago; I am basing out of Philadelphia for a chunk of 2016 because it feels good, so I need a real coat.
You know: a real coat.
My old, light blue Marshall’s steal, got peed on New Year’s eve by my good friend’s dog.
I knew the coat was a goner, but living frugally I thought maybe it was salvageable.
“Babe,” my boyfriend says into the phone as I drive to work.
“Sorry, but your coat exploded inside the washer.”
“Well hopefully your new one will come -“
“Tonight!” I cheer and hang up after properly thanking him for cleaning up the coat carnage.
Right after Christmas, right before I committed to hunkering down in old Philly for a bit, we were out shopping and I saw a killer coat, ostentatious in its look and its price.
I bought it.
Then returned it 22 minutes later because it was out of my price range and I would find a better coat later, I reasoned. I began noticing every coat everyone around me was wearing all the time, settling in on my friend, Isabelle’s recommendation.
“It’s the best coat ever!” she explains. “So warm. My last one ripped on a freak accident and my husband bought me a new one. Same coat. I love it.”
Perfect. I zeroed in on that coat to the chagrin of all others. Even when I went online and searched Uniqlo’s website and the coat she described purchasing eleven days earlier was not there.
Uniqlo? I text her.
I click on the coat I wanted the coat to be: a longish, warm, light coat. It looks short online, but since Isabelle bought one and I saw her coat, I figure it must just look distorted and click purchase. I select two day shipping, comforted it will arrive when the temperatures are said to drop.
I am not much of a shopper - anymore. I used to be, but in Kaua’i, whatever you don’t use molds. And no one really cares what your shoes are like because you are barefoot, and most of the time Nature is your adornment and — don’t get me wrong people dress beautifully — but if you don’t dress beautifully you aren’t judged the same way you are back East (yes, I said), and the distance gave me a bit of a reprieve from that keeping up with the Jonses’ thing, and so I just didn’t.
Admittedly, when I am on the Mainland for stretches I can swing into caring more about my wardrobe, but it doesn’t matter too, too much so I am not as easily tortured as I once was.
I need a coat that is practical, but enjoyable. I need a coat in my budget. I need a coat I would love though, too. Right? I mean haven’t we all heard about the Simple Joys of Tidying Up?
The coat came late. I froze my ass off in 19 degree weather and when it finally did come, it was as short as it looked on the website and not what I had deluded myself into seeing.
“So you are keeping the coat?” my boyfriend asks.
“But you are wearing it -“
“I tucked the tags in,” I show him.
He wisely opens, then closes his mouth and makes us some coffee.
I mean I love the little coat.
I want to keep the little coat.
I need an oh-my-gawd-it’s-freezing-and-I-am-walking-my-dog coat, and this ain’t it.
“So you are moving back to Philly?” an unknown yogi asks me as we both stand in-line for the bathroom.
“No. I am basing out of Philly.”
“What does that mean?”
“Well, it means I have shifted my base for a bit so I can kinda stretch out to create.”
“Oh, so you have to move back?” she tilts her head sympathetically.
“Um - no. Wait, isn’t this where you live? Aren’t you glad to be here?”
I shut my mouth, I have learned most people aren’t happy where they are - no matter where they are. I hear it all the time: It’s too hot, too cold, too loud, too quiet, too boring, too stimulating, too too. I have also learned people only want quantifiable answers. Tell them you are allowing for the open - endedness of life, and you are deemed to be qualified as flighty or marvelous, but not simple existing. Even in small-talk the unknown is apparently intolerable as an answer.
It’s not about the coat, you see. It’s about it all.
It’s about sitting down to sketch out my priorities for 2016 and realizing the best outreach for my focus, my commitment, is best served in my birth town until it’s not, and the issue doesn’t have to be confused and sliced up to make it more palatable for others.
You see, I wrote out my vision, and I allowed myself to make my choices based on my priorities. Sounds simple because it is. Often when we don’t take the time to set priorities we can make decisions on misleading whims, or emotional on-slaughts, rather than just taking the next step.
That’s it. So I moved my base to strengthen my outreach, grow my writing + inspiring, spend time with family while supporting my hanai family back home. I booked my month long trip and plan for my late year return to Hawaii. Now I rejoice in the propagation of lomilomi in the City of Brotherly Love, and the birth of the Sit In Your Center series. It feels right. When you take the time to get quiet, you can hear what is being said. But, apparently I couldn’t hear the simplicity of buying a coat.
So, I return the short coat.I churned about it on my way to hike with a friend in the Wissahickon. I thought how awesome it would be if I could manifest just that one coat.
And, I did.
I parked in a 20 minute loading zone and I ran into a store on Chestnut Street in downtown Philadelphia (unheard of) and corralled a willing staff worker to lead me to the one, long, warmer coat that was in my size and I scampered down the very cool, downtown steps to the cashier, and I told her I had 11 minutes left on my parking, to return the short coat, and buy the new long coat, that was not Isabelle’s coat, but close enough - like a dog with a bone of attachment.
We both laugh.
“Here’s your receipt,” she urges.
I almost didn’t take it, but I remember I am choosing to be more careful and deliberate, so I carefully fold it into my pocket and zip down Chestnut, hopping into the car and very proud of what I had so easily found for myself.
“Is it warm enough?” my friend Angela asks.
We both know the answer is no.
“Enough,” I say.
“It’s all about layering,” Angela offers and we walk along through the trees.
I mean the coat is fine. I see that I try to keep it away from sharp objects — it feels as if I cough right, it will rip.
I say nothing for awhile and I also stop wearing the coat. The weather has warmed.
“It’s going to drop again,” my wise man warns.
“I know — this coat —“ I whine.
“Don’t they say the fourth time is a charm?” he laughs.
At this point I am embarrassed for myself to myself. Sure, I manifested an awesome story of one coat — such a popular term these days, manifest. But what and where was I manifesting from? From clarity or illusion? And when what I created was not enough was I going to stop there because it all seems a little too ridiculous?
If my priority was a clear launchpad to move forward from, and a warm coat to live in while doing it, why was I making it all so difficult and pretending what was not enough was?
And where else did this tendency lie? You see, it’s never what we think it is about. It’s about it all.
I thought that I should not be wasting so much time on a coat because of all the stories I was caught up in except the for the truth of the present moment: I was cold and I needed a coat. If I couldn’t admit and attend to basic self-care, nothing else was going to flourish. It is that simple.
I walk back in to the first store where it all began just after Christmas, to get the original coat. I pick it up and it’s not as heavy as I remember, and it’s not as warm as I need.
There are tons of other coats, so I start digging. I finally find a full, dark purple, quality (brand purposefully omitted) coat, that fits just right, and looks nice — looks like me.
This is what easy feels like, I thought. Finally.
It’s not about the coat — it never was.
Keep going. Whatever you are seeking is seeking you, and the steps you take to get there are a merit of your tenacity and when you prove that you are serious, on a good day, a little grace falls. So when it does, celebrate it; shout it from the rooftops and for goodness sake’s share it, because what we perpetuate grows and we are worth it all. We are all enough for the wild things we want to be, and we have enough to keep going and stretching to make them so.
There are no choices that are really a detour that will take you far from where you’re wanting to —be because your Inner Being is always guiding you to the next, and the next, and the next. So don’t be concerned that you may make a fatal choice, because there aren’t any of those. You are always finding your balance.
It’s a never ending process. —Abraham
Hi Kate -
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