I just dropped my child off at college in NYC. We live in Colorado surrounded by open space, so I found New York to be rather lively. Happily, her school is in a neighborhood that’s quieter than some of the other boroughs.
I got to thinking about the beauty of having good tools when we went shopping for school supplies. My daughter is in school for fashion design, so we set out to visit a beautiful, iconic fabric store. We walked in shortly after the store opened and were met by the racket of a running shop vac. The thing was huge; it was orange and grey and it looked brand new.
We wandered the store, getting our bearings. In doing so we passed a cleaner with the shop vac several times, excusing ourselves as we stepped over the cord. I noticed her laboring away with the hose. The attachment at the end was maybe 4 inches wide with a narrow little opening; it was clearly for small, tight spaces. The carpet was black, an indoor/outdoor type of arrangement that had a nap of very short, thick loops. It sparkled with sequins and glitter from the constant handling of what seemed like a million rolls of fabric. The store is a big one and the square footage cried out for a proper carpet vacuum.
The woman couldn’t push the puny plastic fitting across the floor because it stuttered against the carpet, so she was actually lifting the attachment and sort of whacking the floor with it. It did nothing, but you could see that it wouldn’t help to drag it toward herself either, because of the nap. She couldn’t push it, she couldn’t pull it. The cleaner had set out to vacuum the floor one 4” x 1” section at a time. I found it weirdly agonizing.
The vacuum wailed and we pretended nothing was wrong. I turned to my daughter and said, “Am I crazy? Did someone give this woman a shop vac to vacuum a carpet?” She looked confused; she’s only 18. We went to the counter. The cashier looked us over skeptically before she admitted that indeed, the cleaning staff was given shop vacs to vacuum the carpet. The owner had just purchased a round of new ones. The cashier mentioned that the cleaners were lazy.
“Are they lazy?” I said, “or are they having to do something that’s impossible?” We looked at the cleaner. The shop vac whined ineffectually. The cashier laughed. “Well, yeah.” Now, it’s possible that somewhere in the back room a carpet attachment lay, waiting to fulfill its destiny. Maybe the cleaner just needed someone to show her? Maybe she didn’t have ease. I don’t know, but it was painful to watch.
The image of that scene stayed with me for days. Matching pictures are when we see something about another person or a situation that is true for us, too. I realized the shop vac experience was a matching picture, poking me to look at areas of my life where I habitually struggle with effort, resistance and frustration and where it’s time to call in some ease, or maybe ask for help. It reminded me there’s always more energy to move and offered a clue about what’s up next for me to heal.
Matches are a great way to learn about ourselves by observing all the characters and experiences that make up our world. I see things to love about myself in people I admire. I learn about my own journey when I see another person’s struggle. I read animals and when I do I often think, “so that’s what I’m working on . . . “If we are aware, the simplest things outside ourselves can call attention to our own growth and healing.
We teach our students how to release matching pictures. Blowing up those pictures is one of the fastest ways to heal yourself as a spirit in a body. Try it: notice who you admire, who frustrates you, what lights you up. You can ask yourself, how is this a reflection of me? Putting that energy in a rose or a bubble and blowing it up, shifts your own energy and gives you a healing!
Many blessings to you all and have a great week,
Rt. Rev. Katie Heldman is the Co-Director of Psychic Horizons Center, and wrote this article for the August 29, 2022 eNews.