Learning to Accept Mistakes, Mix-Ups and Free Massages

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 pulled into my hotel just with enough time to hear the opening address. As I’m checking into my hotel, I see a masseuse with her massage table walk into the lobby, and I thought 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 is a massage. To me, it is the ultimate.

While waiting, 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 confess I’ve always wanted a glowing Buddha but feared the bad karma that would follow taking a Buddha. 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 make 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 tiny masseuse said to me in “Happy Valentine’s Day! This is a gift from your husband.” Wow! What a guy! Even though we said we weren’t going to exchange gifts, this was so thoughtful. I wondered how he knew of my exact timing of arriving at the hotel and how he knew that I wasn’t going to just drop off my bag and go straight to the conference? As questions arose in my mind, I confronted 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?

Relaxed woman receiving a back massage

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, lay on the table, fought myself for not wanting to be there, and just accepted that this was exactly where I was supposed to be.

Continuing to breathe and let go of my resentment for missing the opening speaker, I consciously chose to embrace gratitude for this unexpected gift, and I slowly began to embrace the moment and this surprisingly good massage from this really tiny, seemingly very strong masseuse. Because of her size, she actually crawled up on top of me and used her whole body weight to put 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 came out and started to speak very quickly, apologizing that she was in the wrong room and that this massage was not actually meant for me. Laughing inside over the irony that I didn’t even want the massage, and then I had to come to accept 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.

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