It was the Friday afternoon of Valentine’s Day and I was heading into San Francisco for the weekend for the Wisdom 2.0 conference. I was so looking forward to being at the conference, for my 2nd year in a row, and was anxious to see how the weekend would unfold, who I would connect with and what great wisdom I would walk away with.
I made it into the City in perfect timing, having just taught a Mindful Parenting class, and pulled into my hotel just with enough time to check in and make it over to the conference center to hear the opening address. As I’m standing in the W hote lobbyl, I see a masseuse with her massage table, and I think to myself, “That’s cool! Someone is getting an in-room massage!” I am a self-proclaimed massage snob and all I ever really want for my birthday, mother’s day, anniversary or any reason to receive a gift, is a massage. To me, it is the ultimate.
As I continue to wait, I strike up a conversation with the bellman Duncan about my love of the glowing Buddha that adorns each hotel room. As we discuss the true nature of Buddhism, I tell him how I’ve always wanted a glowing Buddha but feared for the really bad karma that surely would follow taking one. He poignantly pointed out that with Buddhism there is no sense of possession, and all is universal, that it really is quite possible the Buddha should really belong to me. Laughing at the duality of this conversation, we walk out of the hotel elevator and down the hall to my room to find the masseuse from the lobby standing at my door. Duncan says, “Oh, looks like you’re getting a massage!” and with a strange feeling arising in me, I am confronted that for the very first time in my life, I didn’t want a massage! I was ready to drop my bag in my room, run across the street, and be in a room with 2000 other like-minded mindful people anxious to get the weekend started.
The small Asian masseuse said to me in a heavy accent “Happy Valentine’s Day. This is a gift from your husband.” Wow! What a guy! We had said that we weren’t going to exchange gifts, and he knows that all I ever really want is a massage. This was so thoughtful. But, how did he know when I'd be arriving at the hotel? And how did he know that I wasn’t going to just drop off my bag and go straight to the conference? As questions arose in my mind, I had to really confront the true issue at heart that for the first time in my life, I really was not in the mood for a massage. I had never experienced that feeling before! What was I to do?
Knowing that there are no accidents, things happen for a reason and that timing is everything, I am strong enough in my practice to know that I just had to go with the flow. Clearly the message here was that I needed to slow down and be with what is. And what is, in this moment, was a woman telling me to undress and lie face down. I quickly text my husband and tell him, “Masseuse just arrived, thank you!” Then I turned off my phone, laid on the table, fought myself for not wanting to be there, and just acceptted that this in fact was exactly where I was supposed to be.
Continuing to breathe and letting go of feeling resentful for missing the opening speaker, I chose to embrace gratitude for this unexpected gift, and slowly began to embrace the moment and this surprisingly good massage from this really tiny, seemingly very strong masseuse.
This massage was, however, different than most massages I have had. Because of her size, she was able to actually crawl up on top of me and use her whole body weight in putting pressure on my sore shoulders and lower back. Not really sure of her exact position, at one point it felt like she was on all fours, when all of a sudden I heard her talking on her phone. She was whispering, “I’m in the middle of a massage…” when she proceeded to climb off of my back and walk into the bathroom to continue her conversation.
She comes out and starts to speak very quickly, beginning to apologize that she was in the wrong room and that this massage was not meant for me. Laughing inside over the irony that I didn’t want the massage, and then had accepted that it was meant for me, when in fact it wasn’t meant for me at all! I proceeded to get off the table, wrap myself in the massage sheet and walk over to my purse to pull out $20 to tip her. She then tells me that she normally charges $80 for 30 minutes, but because of her mistake she would only charge me $60. At first I was really annoyed that now I had to pay for this, but thinking again about good karma, I filled out the paper to charge it to my room, and said goodbye.
Luckily she didn’t use any massage oil and as soon as she was gone, I was able to quickly get dressed and head over to my conference. All the way down the elevator I was laughing over the mishap, and happy that I had learned the lesson I was supposed to learn: Sometimes you have to let go of attachments to the ways you thought things were supposed to be, and accept what is. I had to accept the fact that I needed to slow down, be present, find time to breathe and be in the moment. Even if what I was presented in the moment was meant for someone else, I could still find value in the messages the universe was offering.
Oh, and as I got into the hotel lobby, I found Duncan the bellman, and told him that after our whole conversation, it turned out that my room had no glowing Buddha. I guess someone had already decided to take it. It was then that I realized I didn’t need a glowing Buddha; my Buddha was within.