Walmart and the Eightfold Path

My husband and I had a big fight in the parking lot of Walmart. Over a garbage can. He wasn’t my husband back then. We’d only just moved in together (2001) and in the process of “nesting” I busied myself with vanquishing his bachelor ways. As a newly-minted couple, this was our first big blowout. I’d crossed the line when it came to the kitchen garbage can.

Years later, that very garbage can rears its ugly head… in a book my husband is writing about Buddhism. I’m trying very hard to lead a more aware and enlightened life, so editing the final draft I’ve had a chance to reflect. Some aspects of Buddhism come naturally, others I need to keep working on.

Example of Wrong Action:

During a garage sale last summer a neighbor racked up $25 worth of bargains and promised to pay me later that day. You can guess how that turned out. Not a dime. Seven months later, my keen sense of dog poo timing means every time I take my Bloodhound out for a walk she somehow manages to “lay timber” in this neighbor’s yard… where I’ve NEVER picked it up.

Example of Right Action:

Coming home from a Portland Trailblazer’s game I got on the wrong train. I wound up heading in the wrong direction, changed trains, and somehow found myself STILL on the wrong train and heading to the airport late at night. By now, the once fan-packed cars were empty. Except for me. And a young Hispanic guy who was bleeding.

A lot.

His knuckles were a crisscross of open wounds. He sat directly across from me and stared. I wanted to say something, but really, what could I say? I felt a little scared, too. He looked angry. I finally thought of something I could do to help him.

My friends tease me about being such a girl scout, prepared for anything. In my wallet I carry a half dozen bandages and some first aid cream. Digging through the folds of my wallet, I fished out my medical supplies. I leaned forward, held out everything I had and asked him if he needed help. What happened next surprised me. His eyes filled with tears and he hurried off the train at the next stop. Not a word spoken.

Compassion came naturally to me that night and it doesn’t in other situations. Like with dog poo. Logically, I know I need to cut out this passive aggressive Sh%^ (literally!) and stop judging the neighbor, but as I edit the pages of my husband’s book I’m left wondering if a fight over a garbage can in the parking lot of Walmart was what actually set me on the path to enlightenment… as slow and gradual as it might be!

Jamie Brazil is the author of the contemporary romance, Prince Charming, Inc. and a coming-of-age novel, The Mayan Sisterhood.