The small, well appointed cottage sits a few meters off a quiet road. Just across the field where sheep graze in ever changing numbers, a cluster of buildings claim shoreline rights and provide accommodation to a world of well monied people.
It was February 18th. After months of preparation, I was about to learn the meditative techniques used by our spiritual teacher and his forefathers. The generations-old techniques, highly respected and freely given, are taught to those who are simply willing to do the homework. No testing or qualifying exercises were involved.
The friend who was house-sitting the cottage offered it to a gentleman from off-island; the one who would teach me the new techniques. A woman joined him and prepared an abundance of colourful, healthy finger food for our break.
In one afternoon, the two one-hour training sessions put me on the road to begin my own practice.
After a few days of applying the new techniques, I decided I needed a 15 minute timer. When each 15 minute segment was finished, I wanted to be alerted. The difficulty would be to find an instrument that would not require a re-set, re-wind or re-push and simply give a gentle signal; then carry on to the next 15 minute segment.
The hunt was on. I visited the hardware store, the sporting equipment outlet and even our local pharmacy. Each retailer understood what I needed, but could not help.
In the hardware store, a customer arrived and stood politely behind me. I told him to step up to the counter, “I’ll be gone the minute she’s off the phone because I don’t think anyone on the island has what I need.”
“What are you looking for?” asked the young man who had yards of rubber hose wound around his body.
I told him. His eyes lit up. “Buy a watering timer. You know…like the one you put on a hose? Yah! Then instead of putting a hose on the timer, plug in some kind of thing that will ring. That’d work!” His enthusiasm prompted my sincere thanks. It made up for the improbability of my jury-rigging a clanging hose timer next to my peaceful, meditative ear.
Next, I was sent to Frankly Scarlet Jewellery and Objects D’Art. “They sell watches! They sell Timex watches!” someone added.
Zany, zingy, wild-shaped watches at Frankly Scarlet begin about $259. each. However, I remembered seeing a case of “cheapies” once while I drooled over a colorful necklace stranded through radical creativity and priced at $750.
The couple who own the shop make it so easy to visit. Their inventory confirms their exquisite taste. Cultured, educated, classy and delightfully deep, they appeared to have been matched by the creator of an Ashram.
“Do you both enjoy being retailers? Of course, this shop is more like an art gallery. But do you get bored?” It’s easy to slip into meaty conversations with these retailers. The beauty contained in the store, her flair for display, their beloved dog asleep on its cushion, the peaceful energy…it all invited a feeling of being in their home.
Mrs. FS nodded toward her husband and said, “I couldn’t do retail without him. There are times when a customer will unknowingly sting my heart with some insensitive comment. He’ll just come by and touch my arm. Instant reassurance. Or a customer will have some really silly request and take tons of our time. That can be so frustrating.”
“Well, I’m just here to look at Timex watches. Do you still carry some?” I told him about the meditation so he knew exactly what I needed.
Mr. FS went to the “cheapie” Timex case, “I’m sure there’s at least one with a countdown feature”. He brought a selection of styles to the counter. Each one was a different style with different buttons and manuals. After an hour and 15 minutes, in a conspiracy of “techless” maneuvering, we managed to work the buttons and dials sufficient to declare a test run.
Would it beep and automatically go on to the next set time? He set it for one minute.
We waited. 46, 45, 44 seconds. A customer came to his attention. I was left alone for the countdown…2, 1, 0! Nothing. Nada. Not a sound. ‘Just as well,’ I thought. The price tag was over $80.00.
Mr. FS came back with a confident smile, “Well? Did that do it?”
“There’s no bell, chime, tinkle or vibration,” I told him.
“What? Here, let’s look at it. Hey! It’s what you want. It’s counting down again…3, 2, 1, ZERO! There it goes!”
“There goes what?”
“The ringing! It’s ringing!”
I could not hear a note. No decibel penetrated the upper range of my hearing. Tinnitus had stolen my ability to hear the higher ranges. I stood in silence, embarrassed and wondering if I could swiftly teleport to my car.
“I’ve been searching for months. How many times have I’ve found what I needed without even knowing?” I said.
Mr. FS responded. “You know…,” his smile alarmingly tender, “I bet by now you have your inner clock working just fine. Don’t even peek at a clock. Go with your gut. So what if you are over or under!”
So what indeed!
Funny how the kindness of retailers can cause eyes to leak.