Recently, my daughter and I went into Chicago to hand out the Comfort and Care Bags we created using donations from yoga classes at Sarah Ladybug Yoga. This time of year it is not yet freezing so the homeless folks had migrated to main streets to keep fed and seek shelter near parks, store entries at night, etc. Our journey took us on foot this time to main streets like State Street, Michigan Avenue and the side streets between. Throughout our walking we were able to feed 45 people and hand out dozens of care bags.
One particular corner, we saw a homeless man seated with a cup out for change. Getting ready, I took the top bag off of my shoulder and handed it to my daughter who was closest to him. She brought it over and I handed him a lunch. We exchanged smiles and being on foot, we aimed to cover as much ground as possible so we began walking away.
He said, "Excuse me, can I have a red bag instead?" We had given him a blue bag. A few seconds passed and I said, "Of course." Removed my bags to gain access to a red one as he handed the blue bag back.
This exchange would prove to be brief but profound, lasting only 20-30 seconds (maybe) but there was something left bothering me. As we walked on I mulled it over, again and again. After several hours, my daughter and I stopped for lunch and it began to settle in. My mind started down the path of shadow work. Shadow work is often presented in such moments when we are not aligned with that true nature within-- our actions and words begin to differ from what we know to be true.
I replayed those moments, it actually went a little something like this...
Handed man the red bag and a lunch. Exchanged smiles and walked on. As I was walking I hear, "Excuse me, can I have a red bag instead?"
The initial thought that came to mind- why wasn't the blue one good enough? My instantaneous thought you guys. Why wasn't the one he had good enough?
My NEXT thought was: why Sarah??? It makes no bit of difference to me if the bag is blue, red or pink, or polka dotted. Not one iota!
I then say, "Of course." I find a red bag and we exchange bags.
He smiles and says to me, "Red is my favorite color and I think it would look nice with my clothes too." I nod in agreement.
That troubling feeling all day after that was stemming from my initial reaction to the encounter. Why was this my first reaction? Where did I learn that thought pattern? How many of us operate without giving that NEXT thought the time of day?
It really shook me. If you asked me if I cared if it was red or blue, I would speak it that I have no preference which bag he takes. But in truth, as that moment unfolded, my initial thought was to question his motive. That is in my shadows. That thought was not mine. That thought was most definitely instilled, societal and learned.
As we continue to learn, life shows up and says-- there is much to unlearn as well.
That is the shadow work. The unlearning of deep seated patterns we have inherited and created that do not serve the authentic Self. The bits that do not align with your Truth.