I took my car to the garage guy recently and expected a simple checkup and a phone call or a chat about what repairs (if any) needed to be done. No calls, but when I returned to pick up my car, he presented me with a $350 bill.
“What did you do?” I asked.
“Changed the oil and checked the brakes,” he said, and handed me the bill.
“You charged 3 hours of labor for that?!” It takes about 30 minutes at most places, and the brake checkup is free. Plus I hadn’t asked for an oil change. But instead of getting angry and worrying about the money, I felt curious. The curiosity brought a feeling of expansion and open awareness. I paid the bill and left. When I got home I checked with other local garages and found his rates were way out of line. Maybe he thought I was a dumb woman. I called him and explained my research. I never felt or spoke with anger.
“Come back tomorrow. I’ll give you a refund for the labor,” he said.
When I returned the next day, he puffed himself up and acted angry. “I’m not discounting the labor,” he said. “I’ll give a discount on the parts.” (Which would have reduced the amount by about $50. Whoopee.) He raised his voice to intimidate and frighten me. But I stood, very grounded, and observed without matching his energy. Often the reaction is to match anger with anger, but in a place of calm observation, it’s possible to engage in a different way.
“That’s still way high,” I said, still grounded and calm.
He stormed into his office, yelled, threatened to break my car. “I’ll reimburse the whole amount. But come back tomorrow. I need to make sure your credit card cleared.” (It already had.) “Then I don’t want to ever see your face again.”
I decided to come back the next day, as requested, but bring a friend, a bodyguard. My friend works protecting politicians and celebs. He looks the part too, with his broad chest, huge arms, black leather jacket, black pointy shoes, and mirrored sunglasses. I asked him to not get involved and not to say anything, but to think of it as a joke and we’d see what might happen. As soon as the two of us arrived at the garage, the garage owner took one look at my bodyguard and promptly wrote a check for the full amount of $350.
Once out the door, I laughed and laughed. My level of detachment to the outcome gave me a real sense of liberation — that is freedom from expectation of a given outcome. Being in that space of the witness, of the observer, left me free to act from a different, broader place of awareness.
Now you’re thinking I’m a saint, right? But a few weeks later, I find myself having fallen from the grace of that space of curiosity, gratitude, and liberation. And freedom from expectation. Engaged in some beautiful connections with a man over the past months, I felt emotional attachment. I wanted him (but didn’t need him). And when he ended up making decisions that left me out, I felt hurt, disappointed, and angry. It astounded me that I could feel such a level of detachment about money and my car and then feel bogged down by the loss of a relationship that seemed to hold potential for love, connection, and joy.
OK, a guy is different than say, my car, or money. Or is he?
Why not remain in the space of freedom without attachment to an outcome – just like I did with the garage guy? It certainly was more fun.
With my romantic interest, my mind ran rampant with the hopes, the dreams, the expectations – and we went from kissing and making out (in reality) to being ‘happily-ever-after’ forever in my dreams. Sure, he led me on big time. And yes, I allowed it and wasted mental energy on him!
But I learned the lesson: Be in a space of allowing rather than expecting.
Hanging out with a guy over a few months is different than a one time trip to the garage. But I’m fast heading for the the same place of detachment and freedom about my love life as I am with the car. Detachment doesn’t mean “I don’t care.” It simply means, holding an expansive awareness and allowing people and situations to be and evolve as they will with the full recognition that I don’t need to control or push or try to achieve an outcome that fits with what my little self thinks is best. There’s something bigger at play, and how delightful to be able to enjoy the expansive awareness. And it’s way more fun!