He worked hard 16 hours a day not because he needed the money which he made plenty of but because he was consumed by it. Money engulfed his thoughts and was the power that drove him to ignore his family's emotional needs. It closed a gap in his consciousness but he was not aware of the hole it had created.
After two years of asking from his wife, he caved one day sick in bed from overwork, promising her he would see the guru she felt would allow him to let go of his attachment to money and his inability to sit and enjoy himself with a cup of tea or coffee.
He walked into the guru's house with distrust and the man dressed in all white motioned him to sit. The man then placed a suitcase on the table in front of him, opened it, and revealed a full suitcase of $1,000 bills.
"rip all of these bills in half and you will be free"
The task was painful at first, overwhelmed by confusion. However, the man in white was watching him from the couch helping him to put those thoughts behind him and focus on his homework. This money could buy a house, a car, a lot of fine wine he thought.
rip, rip, rip
His thoughts soon because more altruistic. This money could buy food, housing for the poor. It could start a charity or aid in scientific research.
rip, rip, rip
The money became just paper, thoughts of his family and love took over, ripping the bills with joy. He realized his weaknesses in one rush of mental thought. How silly he had been. Money wasn't important anymore.
The other day I needed gas, as one does when they go vroom vroom with their cars. After leaving the gas station booth with a gatorade I drove out of the parking lot getting 100 yards before realizing with sudden anxiety that I had left without putting the $10 of gas in my car that I had already paid for.
Since I have very little money I was more overcome than usual with worry that I would lose the $ if I didn't get back there quick. I made the mistake of making a sharp left u-turn into the left lane going the opposite direction. A mistake I say because I could have caused an accident as the woman behind me pointed out.
She herself almost causing an accident as she violently halted her car next to me, rolled down the window and with a face resembling a tomato injected with growth hormone screaming "what were you thinking, you could have caused an accident..." I sat there observing and felt the oneness of the situation. I had acted out of anxiety and so was she without thinking of "what if's". What if I had had a bad day and was a suicidal psychotic individual who could go over the edge with a little push?
Thank god that was not the case but it was comforting to me in the moment watching her slightly irrational anger thinking that I liked that life was unpredictable. That people weren't robots statistically thinking through their every move.
Sal, always introspective and wise beyond her years had never been interested in life’s material gifts. She never created an emotional attachment to possessions and didn’t live a life in which objects were necessary. Sal worked as a wilderness trip leader leading adults on backpacking trips through the Himalayas, the Rocky Mountains, the Sierra Nevada’s, and other breathtakingly sterile environments of the world. When asked about her passions her response was always what is true and beautiful in this world, aka the great outdoors.
Making roughly $2,000 for a 2-week trip, she wasn’t able to provide herself a home, instead living out of her Subaru or crashing with one of many friends she had met through the years. Anyone who knew Sal welcomed her openly into their home knowing she would not overstay her welcome and would provide insights, laughs and deep conversations during her stay.
Excited to open the letter from her aunt, she accidentally spilled her water glass on the earth-toned envelope, wiping it off to the best of her ability she sat down in her friend’s brown leather chair and began to read. About half way through, the pages began to get wet, ink colliding with the water making Rorschach like images on the page. Sal was crying. Not a grief-stricken gut wrenching cry but a cry caused by a deep understanding and acceptance of the words she had just read. She always had a feeling that one day she might read a letter like this from her aunt.
Sal had never met anyone who knew themselves better than aunt bethel so Sal composed herself and felt a pleasant energy pass through her body, it had to be right.
My dear Sal,
I write these words with the most spectacular kind of love and enlightenment imaginable. To start, do not be alarmed but this is a suicide note. Possibly the most uplifting one ever written J I have come to a place of great peace, fulfillment and knowledge of what is vast. I am not sick, cancer never got its hold on me, my brain has no beta-amyloid plaques and I still climb red rocks everyday euphorically enjoying every minute of it. A revelation however came to me and I knew I was ready to leave this life for another. Dear Sal, knowing you, you are probably dropping tears on this page for you love me and however much confusion this may bring you, you are happy for me and know its right. Sal I am so proud of you, your spirit brings light to those who meet you and wisdom is at home in your heart. I will always be with you in spirit
Always yours, aunt Bethel
I am leaving my house to you with all of my possessions. Do as you wish.
The letter was short and to the point, definitely the words of her aunt. The tears stopped and peace set in. She felt an out of body experience where her mind floated, enveloped by her aunt’s spirit. Her body was tingling but she could not feel it. Once the sensation began to subside, clarity, at least as much as she could grasp at a moment like this ensued.
Sal confidently left a note to her friend she was currently staying with, packed up her things and with Subaru in tow, began driving east towards Colorado. Partly to answer some questions about her oddball, brilliant aunt, partly for closure, but mostly out of curiosity for what answers her aunt may have left behind.
The house was charming, just as she remembered. It had white paneling with yellow shutters, a wrap around porch with no shortage of flowers, herbs and plants from all geneses. It was Colorado, a dry climate but somehow her aunt blessed with a green thumb could make anything grow. She even noticed the venus fly traps her aunt had always loved, but instead of fly’s, they now housed spiders which used the plant as a host to catch their own prey.
Eccentric on the outside with quirky gnomes and spotted ceramic mushrooms in vibrant colors, Sal felt as though she were in wonderland. The blossomed branches of a tree were shaped in such a way that made it seem alive with spiritual sense. A pond housed fish and softball sized toads. The cicadas chimed and dragonflies whizzed by while a turtle slipped off a lily pad into the cool murky water. It was a place of energy, a place of truth, a place that had created many great childhood memories and some fond adult ones too. She thought about setting up her tent on the porch and calling it a night but curiosity got the best of her and she got the hideaway key from under some fake dog poop and went inside.
It was quieter inside but she felt the spiritual energy from before cloak her in enchantment. The smell of lavender made Sal feel safe and comfortable, the many artifacts and art pieces inside made her feel as though she were part of something magical. She could still sense her aunts spirit here…. pure love.
The house was filled not with mass produced sale items, or clutter but with lively art from around the world; a life size wooden giraffe from Africa, masses of books in every subject known to man from theology to anthropology and physics and plants bringing the outdoors inside. Her favorite was a coral cactus that looked like it was plucked from an underwater desert.
One of her favorite features was the grandfather clock, which housed the face of a grizzly bear. Every hour on the hour the grizzly would share some life knowledge such as “force always attracts men of low morality” or “None, but people of strong passion are capable of rising to greatness” or “The most significant aspect of intuition is the ability to see from the soul instead of the ego.
After hours of reminiscing around the house with her favorite oddities and memories Sal went to bed in the guest bedroom known as the green room. Everything in this room reflected nature from the faux moss rug to the cacti garden to the sound machine, which Sal always set on ocean mode.
The next day Sal woke to the realization of the density of the previous day. Thoughts began to sprout in her head; did aunt Bethel go delusional? Did she become schizo with hallucinations of beings wanting to take her out of this world? Was she really depressed contrary to everything she knew was true? Did Aunt Bethel start doing drugs? Did she really attain pure enlightenment and take a new path? By forcing these thoughts out of her mind through meditation Sal once again became excited to revel in her aunts unusual and beautiful possessions, taking in the spirituality that seemed to embrace each one.
After spending the morning in a dream like state, feeling like a child again, Sal found in the attack a box of objects, unusual since her aunt seemed to have a place for everything and old items she couldn’t find a place for were always given away. The first item out of the box was an intricate wooden African mask probably acquired in Botwana or Namibia, two of her aunt’s favorite safari spots. Next Sal pulled out some tiny moccasins that looked quite authentic. And then her memory had a heart beat; these were the moccasins she had cherished during her years of being a toddler, ecstatic euphoria ran though her whole body. Images of walking through Garden of the Gods-with them flooded her mind and filled her with oneness and freedom. A childlike giggle erupted from her mouth.
The next item Sal pulled out of the box struck her with indifference. It was an old Chanel perfume bottle. Odd, because her aunt wasn’t known for buying brand or expensive products but chose to spend her money on local fair trade products. Looking at the bottle more closely brought no new observations or appreciations. The bottle was not unique, not nostalgic looking and quite simply ugly according to Sal.
It’s a wonder, thought Sal why this item was kept in a box with other treasures. Perhaps someone close to her aunt had given it to her and she had kept it out of remembrance for the individual in question. The bottle she noticed was still full of liquid which made sense since her aunt wore tea tree oil or rubbed tree bark on her skin as a fragrance, she probably never even sprayed from the Chanel bottle. Although her opinion of the bottle was firm she tried to get more of a sense for the object by holding it, then rubbing the old label feeling the surface and quality of it. When she did this something strange happened. The liquid inside the bottle began to swirl turning a shimmering emerald green color.
Next, the cap popped off. Sal sat in surprise. Then green liquid began coming out of the bottle transforming into gas form. A few seconds went by in which Sal was paralyzed by shock further sparked by the green eyes that stared into her own that appeared to be from a genie. Who knew? Sal thought.
Without any time to compose herself, the genie spoke. “I am Gizzy, thank you for rubbing my chalice, it’s been awhile since I’ve been in gas form. You will receive one wish for releasing me. Sal responded, I thought I got three wishes? Where did you hear that? The Genie replied. “ahh my kinsmen must have stepped away from tradition in an attempt to foster a more favorable attitude towards our kind. I’m afraid you will only get one wish from me so choose wisely”. Sal, looking perplexed, “so there’s more of you?”
“Yes we came to Earth in 1650. Unfortunately when we settled in Norway the citizens were not too keen on our magical ways, perhaps afraid so they trapped us in objects without contact for centuries. I do not know the stories of my kinsmen but my story on Earth began March 9, 1650 when I was put into an urn. A man named James Erikson released me once in 1953. James too had one wish, that I provide for him a wife. A woman of great beauty who would bestow upon James a family.
I found James a wife but after several months together Angelina grew depressed and scared of James’ outbursts and unloving ways. I begged James to let her go, she was not happy with him. James got angry with me and trapped me in this chanel bottle for the past 6 decades.
Sal remembered the name James Erikson, her aunt had worked for him as a textile merchant before she had made a name for herself as a clothing designer. Sal wondered how her aunt had acquired the chanel bottle and if she knew what it held. Surely though if she knew of its secret she would have let Gizzy free.
Their eyes locked and Sal with honesty and intimacy said “Gizzy once my wish is granted you will be free, I will not lock you back up”. Gizzy grinned un-maliciously with love and thanks. The emerald green eyes gave off a flicker of shyness and humility. I wonder if they are all this likeable Sal thought.
Sal decided to sleep on the question of what her one wish would be. “Can I get you anything, where will you sleep” she asked Gizzy.
“The teakettle will be just perfect” he replied. And it then hit Sal how easy it must have been for the Norwegians to trap the genies since they must like confined spaces. And with that thought, up to the guest bedroom she went.
Laying in bed the next morning Sal pondered her wish. There wasn’t anything observable that she wanted. She was content with her own life, living in the present with no regrets. She wondered if she could use her wish towards the good of others. There was however one question that had been stirring inside her since she had read her aunts letter, where was her aunt now? This question she knew could never be answered unless her wish were utilized in retrieving it.
If she used her wish to quench her curiosity would this be selfish she thought? No it is my wish she countered, I deserve to use the wish as I please. But once I know where she is now if she is anywhere will I be satisfied? Still questioning? Or worse, horrified? Is this a risk she wanted to take? All the years she spent with her aunt laughing, exploring, learning and loving – shouldn’t she keep her aunt’s spirit on this Earth alive with these memories not some new ones she may come to possess if she uses her wish to satisfy her inquisitiveness.
She tried to brainstorm what else she wanted knowing world peace was not something Gizzy was capable of producing. A trip around the world, a chance to have dinner with her dead idols Van Gough, Carl Jung and Rembrandt; But what she really wanted was knowledge. Wisdom of what comes after this life or at least for her aunt. It must be a happy place she thought since her aunt lived a life of giving and graciousness. And if her aunt was not in a happy place maybe Gizzy could find a way to save her for her aunt did not deserve pain. Her soul was wise, kind and beautiful, if life (or whatever you call it after life) were harsh for aunt Bethel then justice truly was not served.
She headed downstairs to see if her new friend was out of the teakettle yet. To Sal’s liking he was, with coffee brewing and crepes on the brink of readiness. How he managed this in gas form was a mystery to her. “Thanks Gizzy, where did you learn to cook”?
“Before coming to Earth we did a magnificent amount of research and training. Learning your language was of coarse one of the tasks as well as learning how to be a, what is it, an average joe”.
“What happened to your world? I mean why did you have to find a new planet?
“We found out that our planet would be destroyed on October 1st 1648 by an asteroid, just in time for we had to find a new home that could sustain us and the needed preparation that moving planets would require would take a little time”.
“So I’ve been thinking about my wish and I’ve decided what I want. I want to know where my aunt’s soul is now”. Gizzy dropped the plate of crepes, surprised by Sal’s desire for knowledge opposed to a wish of greed or materialism.
“I’m impressed Sal, I did not think I would ever meet a human who would choose such a wish. Lucky for you I can grant this request. I possess metaphysical powers, which can transport you to realms beyond your limitations. When would you like to go?”
“Anytime is fine with me”
As fast as her comment was made, she began feeling her mind escape her body, they were indescribably separate but she knew she could go back to her body anytime, she didn’t want to. She found herself in the blackest surrounding she had ever experienced, flying through the universe. It was a euphoric feeling, like everything was all and all was one. She had never experienced joy and perfection like this before it was from another place. Was this heaven? She flew with her mind through blackness and then through a magical array of colors, maybe a nebula Sal thought. While flying though this exultant beauty Sal realized she no longer had an “I”. She was no longer trapped in her body everything was everything. Everything was truth.
This realization was the best gift she had ever received. She was content with her aunt’s soul being a part of this universe, she returned to her body, a deep sensation of peace settled over her now fully enlightened soul.
She looked up at Gizzy who was grinning at her with all teeth showing. “Thank you” she said with half closed eyelids and a drugged up façade. Gizzy laughed.
When Sal arrived back in reality she thanked Gizzy again. “You know Plato, one of our great philosophers believed that the soul existed before its birth into the body and that the goal of life is to be freed from the entrapment of the body. If not for you I wouldn’t have been able to truly grasp this truth. Thank you.
Sal moved into her aunts new home in Colorado with Gizzy as her roommate and constant companion. She still led trips around the world but found sanctuary in her new home. When Sal got married and had kids, Gizzy remained her loyal friend and cook of the house… his choice of coarse.