Wednesday, March 10, 2010

What's In Your Cart?

There are three words that some of you, my readers, will never hear:

Attention K-Mart Shoppers!

You've never been there, never plan to. But me? I spend most of my shopping career in stores with carts. When I go to Target, in one orange buggy, I will have put my new Easter dress, a bag of Cheetos, some 3 way bulbs and a six pack of Diet Coke--- right on top of each other. Oh, yeah, and then I might need to pick up a new bra and some motor oil. Into the cart they go, plopped on top of the Cheetos. When my son, Cole, was about ten he asked me, "Mom, can we ever go shopping in a store where everything you buy doesn't go into one orange basket? Say more, my son. "Well, some of my friends' moms like go to a store that sells just shoes. In fact, mom, some stores don't even have orange carts for you to push around while you shop. You just go there only to buy clothes. There are other stores just for appliances. They are not even the same store."
Hmmmm. Stores in America are like that? Where?
I was about to tell you that I have lived my life where everything is piled into the same cart. I have pretended that I had no strict divisions that separated my life into distinct parts. As a public school teacher, I went to the homes of students, I got to know their families, their churches and their neighborhoods. My job was integrated into my real life. My family, my neighbors, my education, my friends---all are sort of piled in together in one basket. Sometimes anyway. But only at times when I'm not asked to make huge sacrifices and you know, give too much of myself. Now that I am looking at it, I may be just as divided you.
I push around one life cart when I visit Jane whose kids go to private schools; I listen to her rant on about quality education. When I am with my "religious" friends, I try harder not to cuss and am ready to impress them with my recitation of the Books of the Old Testament in order. When asked if I can burp the entire Apostles Creed, I decline. When I go to the gym, I pretend that my spandex is just de rigueur for working out. In visiting children in the projects, I hide my Merrill Lynch statement under the junk on the front seat of my car so as to appear poor--like them. Same life. Different baskets. In fact, I push around a whole bunch of different carts and don't really know what part of me is in any of them.
What I love about Taylor is that he really does live the whole of his life out of one incredibly honest basket. What he pulls from it and then adds to it, is always the same no matter what he is doing or who he is with. Even more rare, he only puts "stuff" in his cart that he needs. He has no temptation or craving to fill his basket to heal an emptiness inside of himself. There is not even one new bedspread or new Wii game, or trendy pair of jeans out there that he ever has to have. (Can we each hear ourselves saying, "I just have to buy those shoes or car or dress or purse or TV or, or, or, or, or."?) We fill our basket and carts and lives with stuff and still wonder why we are not content/fulfilled/happy.
What if we took a good look at what's in our life cart? If we have just one cart that has our name on it, what would go into it? What would you label as "Absolute Must-Haves" to make your life whole? A friend told me just yesterday, "Get rid of anything that isn't useful, joyful or beautiful."
From being around Taylor, I'll tell you what's on his cart list: Kindness, Gentleness, Honesty, Compassion, Love and humility. Taylor keeps all of his stuff in one cart. He has all he needs there. What are you keeping in yours? What would you add? It's perfectly safe to load loving kindness right smack dab on top of patience---I mean, if they happen to be on your list.
Oh yeah, keep the Cheetos.
They're a given. Useful.