At a school festival last weekend I found $4. To some, this may have been thought of as their lucky day, but for me it’s not so lucky. I detest the burden of found money. And here is why: when I was in college I had a string of incidences where I was faced with taking the money and running or giving it back, and I always failed the “test.” Always.
For example, I used a laundry-mat in college and I needed quarters for the machines. I gave the man a $10 bill and he gave me $20 in quarters. I saw what he did, but I kept my mouth closed and did a silent, but in-my-head loud, “Whoo Hooo”! Extra beer money that night.
Another time, I was at the Waffle House after-hours and I went to the restroom where I found a wallet sitting on the sink. I opened it up and there was a wad of cash. There was a knock on the door, a woman frantic, and I knew it was the owner of said wallet. What did I do? I took some of the cash and stuffed it in my pocket and left some – I wasn’t completely heartless, plus she might see that emptiness and come after me.
I could go on, but you might not think so highly of me if I did and this might be a much longer post than I intend to make it. So needless to say, I wasn’t the most honest person in my youth.
But somewhere along the way I decided and said out loud, to whom ever might hear me, I was not going to be dishonest anymore. If someone gave me too much money, I would return it. And if there was a wallet stuffed with cash, it would not be me that did the taking; I would be giving it back.
And don’t think I wasn’t tested on my new promise, because I was. Shortly after, I went to Belk’s in Macon and the lady did not charge me for a shirt I was purchasing, and I didn’t realize it until I got home. In my new state I had to take it back and tell them. So that is what I did.
That’s not the only thing. There have been many, many incidences. Although I notice that as I give back the monies I would have collected, these situations occur less often. A recent example might be having both kids in tow and accidentally forgetting to ring something up in the self-checkout line. I go back. Even if it means I have to go through the torture of having the kids beg me for quarters for those damned (language necessary) gumball machines in the area where you leave the store and the carts are parked.
Even today, when I find money, I think of it as a kind of test to my promise made so many years ago. It’s effort finding money on the ground because I have to decide what to do. “Finders keepers, losers weepers” just won’t work because someone in my scenario is weeping and that is what I see in my mind.
I also should say, if you are a person that considers yourself lucky to find money, I am not judging your integrity. This is about my own dishonesty as a younger self and the image that I hold for that younger self. It’s more than found money, it was keeping something that was not mine, therefore now I keep nothing that I do not consider “mine.”
So, I found the $4 and I had to do something with it. I decided the best course of action would be to donate the money. And it just so happens that my local coffee shop, where I spend a good bit of time reading and drinking mochas, has a collection going for breast cancer month. It also happens that two of my mom’s sisters, my aunts, have had breast cancer and survived it. So this is a cause near and dear to my heart.
On my way to meet Hubby for dinner, after meditation that evening (on the same day I found the money), I passed the coffee shop. I decided I would swing in and donate that money right then.
I parked the car, ran in, threw the donation into the big clear vase with a pink ribbon drawn on it, and I ran back to my car. I put the key in the ignition and…. nothing. The car would not start. Again. No start. Again. No start. In fact, that car never did start and Hubby had to come pick me up. I also came home that night to find my daughter sick. She was so sick I decided to take her to the after-hours pediatrician the next morning.
As I look for a lesson here, I realize that just because I am “good” and I do, what I reason, to be the “right thing,” it doesn’t mean I am immune to the tribulations of life. See, I don’t think God (or the Universe) gives us “good luck” for being a “good” person. It’s just not necessary. We are who we are based on our own truth. What might be a burden to me, like finding money, might be a Godsend to someone in dire need of extra cash, like $4 to buy a loaf of bread and a jar of peanut butter because they are out of a job and the kids were going to go hungry that night.
It is not up to me to judge a situation as good or bad, but to do what I need to do for my own spirit. And that is what I did. I felt great donating the money. Even with my car sitting in the coffee shop parking lot overnight and my daughter throwing up all night long starting at midnight. My body might have been very tired, but my spirit was satisfied.
Such a clear and thoughtful story of your journey to becoming your best. Just like you, I tend to see various situations as "tests". I truly believe we are tested and someday we will re-live the ones we passed and the ones we failed. As always, I am so proud of my girl. Mom
Even thoight I'm not a mom, every time I read one of your blogs, I feel a strong parallel to my own spiritual journey. Thank you for your beautifully articulated insights. You are truely a very talented writer!