temporary sojourner

| December 19, 2013

This morning I swung by Walgreens to pick up some photos I ordered. Once they’re in their frames and wrapped, our Christmas gifts will officially be ready for our trip to Omaha. Can I tell you how psyched I am to be done?

almost done

Well, the woman at Walgreens wouldn’t give me my order. Apparently a few photo files from our wedding came through with copyrights attached to them, so I need a photographic release letter in order to pick them up. I was mystified. First of all, I’ve already printed a bunch of wedding photos through CVS and Shutterfly. Second, they’re my photos, for heaven’s sake. Just give them to me!

The two-year-old within me galloped front and center. I wanted the clerk to waive the policy on my behalf; she politely held her ground. I wasn’t exactly rude, but I wasn’t a ray of sunshine, either. Here’s a charming excerpt: “I really don’t have time for this. Can I talk with a manager or something?”

“I am the manager,” she replied.

In the parking lot, tears of shame filled my eyes. I’d just come from teaching a yoga class. How had I transitioned so quickly from deep breathing to self-important indignation?

I played back the conversation in my mind as I drove home. I’d lied to that woman. I actually do have time for this. Most of the people I know are scrambling to tie off loose ends before the holidays, but I’m underemployed, and we don’t leave for Omaha until Saturday. I have plenty of time to get an email from our photographer and return to the store.

Was that my problem? Do I wish I didn’t have time for this? Would I feel more valuable if I couldn’t spare 20 minutes for another trip to Walgreens?

John O’Donohue wrote,

We rush through our days in such stress and intensity, as if we were here to stay and the serious project of the world depended on us. We worry and grow anxious; we magnify trivia until they become important enough to control our lives. Yet all the time, we have forgotten that we are but temporary sojourners on the surface of a strange planet spinning slowly in the infinite night of the cosmos.

Yup, I’m weaning myself off the stress and intensity. Sometimes I need a minor inconvenience to jog me out of my self-aggrandizement.

I call the Walgreens manager and apologize. She says it was no big deal. She calls me “hon.”

phone call

I sit here with the cat and chuckle at myself. “Hey Gus, have you forgotten that you’re a temporary sojourner on the surface of a strange planet spinning slowly in the infinite night of the cosmos?”

Gus, temporary sojourner

Gus lies his head back down. He never forgets.

not so forgetful as me

Category: remaining calm, yoga

About the Author ()

Hannah Lynn Mell grew up a missionary kid in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii. Now she lives in Amesbury, Massachusetts with her exquisitely kind husband David, their plucky three-legged cat Thomas, and a needy-yet-lovable dachshund named Birdie. She's worked with singers since 1998 and loves to help people of all ages free their voices. She's currently earning a Master of Social Work degree with the hope of using creative, expressive modalities in clinical settings.

Comments (5)

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  1. Jade says:

    I love that you called and apologized! You are the best. Well, after Gus.

  2. Catherine says:

    Stretching the time between “deep breathing to self-important indignation” is the goal…one piece at a time. I’m sure that manager had a story of gratitude that evening.

  3. Melissa says:

    Thanks for sharing your story! It’s a good reminder for me;)

  4. Thanks, oh luminous friends! There’s something freeing about sharing one’s un-Zen moments online.

  5. Douglas Bowker says:

    Perfect Hannah. Thank you!
    And Merry Christmas!!!! 🙂