In preparation for the snow storm that is currently going on outside my window, my husband and I went to the grocery store yesterday. The parking lot was, of course, full, so we had to park at the far end of the lot.
Behind some buildings. Next to a dumpster, in a spot that really wasn’t a spot.
As we walked toward the store entrance, we ended up in a discussion about the return of our (future) shopping cart, and whether the cart actually had to go back to the ‘corral’ in order to be considered returned. The discussion continued, on and off, through the shopping trip itself and finally ended when we were in the checkout line and I proposed pulling the car up to the front of the store to load the groceries. So, my husband did the checking out, and I went to get the car. I pulled up, he loaded the car and the cart was returned to the store itself rather than to one of the cart return spaces scattered throughout the parking lot.
Now, I’ll admit that this solution only works if there are two people doing the shopping, but to me it was the perfect compromise: the cart was placed in an appropriate spot that maximized usefulness and minimized problems for others AND no long walk was needed.
So, why am I writing about this seemingly trivial incident on my religious blog? Well, you see, shopping carts (both literal AND metaphorical) figure heavily in my religious practice. I have to put them away – leaving them on the sidewalk, or in a parking space, or over one of those concrete barrier things is just not an option any more. Had I been on my own, I would have taken the long walk to my car to put the groceries in, then another long walk to the cart return, then yet another walk to the car because otherwise I would have yelled at myself for the rest of the day.
And yet, there are times that I spend spoons on returning carts when I should be saving them for other things, and that specifically goes against everything I believe. How can ma’at be upheld when the community of self is in turmoil? How can the Dark Flame be nurtured and allowed to glow when the wind of a spoon-shortage storm is blowing? How am I not a hypocrite if I don’t walk my talk?
(These are the things that keep me up at night. Well, these and running out of Xanax.)
If balance is an oft-mentioned-hard-kept thing, then compromise is its close cousin. People hold compromise up as the great solution, and I’ve never really believed it – I prefer to be right. But the fact that it worked so perfectly for me yesterday is leading me to rethink my point of view…which either means there’s a glowing bulb over my head or my headache is due to it being hit with a clue-by four. Compromise is what needs to happen when my religious practices collide with my life.
I already do this to some extent – my implements are not taking over the house, I don’t hold rituals in the living room if someone else is using it, etc. – but I need to expand it. If I lose my voice (like now), I can pray silently rather than aloud. If I’m short on sleep, I can greet the gods when I wake naturally rather than setting an alarm. If I cannot afford a sistrum, I can make one. (Well, I can’t – I’m not crafty. Someone can. Anyway.) If I don’t have the spoons to do something, it is okay to admit it and act accordingly, because bankrupting myself (metaphorically-speaking) is against my religion.
Now, all I need to do is remember it.