In Nepal I met a Swedish backpacker that had bought a huge bag of weed. He was taking a domestic flight and it never occurred to him that they might check his luggage there also, so he had casually packed the weed at the very top of his carry-on luggage. He landed in Kathmandu and was singled out for inspection.
The inspector opened his carry-on and took out the huge bag of weed. He then continued to empty out the guy’s pullover, t-shirt, sunglasses, guide book and water bottle. At the very bottom of the bag he found a neatly tied plastic bag with a couple of used batteries. The inspector took the bag, turned to the guy, demonstratively waved the batteries at him and scolded him:
– Certainly you know that you are not allowed to have batteries on the plane? You can’t just have them lying around like that!
– They were worn out and I couldn’t find a recycling station, the Swede excused himself.
– That makes absolutely no difference! You never, ever fly with batteries. I never want to see you do something that stupid again! Got it?
The irritated inspector confiscated the batteries and then packed the guys bag again. The water bottle, guide book, sunglasses, t-shirt, pullover and last the huge bag of weed. He zipped up the carry-on and with a frown pushed it over to the Swede.
– Go. Just go.
Photo: Favourite Flight by Sam Hawley on Flickr
I once crossed paths with a most peculiar woman at a gathering. I can’t really tell what she was, but she had the look of a gypsy witch shaman. With her she had an apprentice and a helper. I never spoke directly with her, but I did get the chance to study her.
As I did so I saw her vanish into thin air and then she would reappear somewhere else entirely. Her vanishing would go fast, as the blink of an eye. It was really strange and it took me a long time to understand how she did it. This is how.
We all usually have signifiers in our appearance, things that make us stand out. It can be our big red hair, a special scarf, odd sneakers, colourful details on our clothing or a way of walking. Often we have several such signifiers. When we look for someone in a crowd we are actually looking for their signifiers and if we can’t find their signifiers we assume they are not there.
The woman I was watching was both skilful and clever. Her outfit had several signifiers that were easy to notice, but what I came to understand was that they were also easy to hide. With a few quick moves she would cover her signifiers, assume another body posture, a little limp and as it would appear – vanish into thin air.
Photo: HOLI – THE FESTIVAL OF COLOURS by Diganta Talukdar on Flickr
The general rule is that you get however many chances you need to complete your lesson. You always get a second chance. And a third, a fourth, a fifth and however many you need.
That doesn’t necessarily mean that you will be given a second chance by the same person or even in the same life, but in fact you won’t be able to move forward before you get it right.
Now some pessimists might think that there is no incentive to complete the lesson and move on. That the rule of having all the chances in the world will make slackers. Well, there are at least two things that push people to move on. The first is that the lesson becomes harsher each time it comes around in order to motivate us to move forward. Life wants us to evolve. The second is that it becomes outright boring to work on the same lesson over and over.
Let’s take the example of addiction. Life will give you as many chances that you need to overcome an addiction. If that is part of your life lesson you will have every chance. Now that doesn’t mean that the same person will give you unlimited chances. There will certainly be people and institutions that get fed up with you after a while and let go of you, but there will always be new doors opening for you to end your addiction, all the way up until your death bed. And if you aren’t able to solve it in this life you will bring the lesson along to the next, so even if you manage to end it five minutes before your death it is a victory, because you won’t have to go through the same painful journey all over again.
The first times that you get into contact with your lesson the effort needed to break the addiction will be quite small, but it might at the same time not feel very pressing. You might not have felt enough harm and pain to fully understand the importance of dealing with it, so you stay in it. But with time and with each door you close the lesson will become harsher. The harm will increase and so will the pain. What was once a soft and barely distinguishable alarm will grow to a siren right next to you until you simply cannot ignore it anymore. And you will be fed up with your lesson, with yourself and perhaps even with this life because you are just hurting yourself in the same way over and over again. You will be frustrated and bored and longing for change until one day you finally learn the lesson.
Then there will be a great release.
And after that another lesson. That lesson will be all new and might even be quite intriguing. In the beginning you might not even notice the opportunities you are being given to learn the lesson. Perhaps you can’t see the need of learning it at all so you pass up the opportunities. But don’t worry. You will have all the chances you will ever need to learn the lesson. That is simply how it works.
Photo: drink up, its summer by Jeff Ruane on Flickr