I drummed my fingers on the keyboard, hovered the pointer over the inbox list, and then slammed the laptop shut.
When I was ready to face the email, I first turned my attention to the invoice. I scrolled past the hourly calculations, down to the the end, to find the total.
Twice the amount I’d expected. I sucked in a mouthful of air. I hyper-ventilated. I ate six cookies.
After lunch, I opened the invoice again. The total was still the same. I took a nap.
I opened it once more, this time studying the calculations. Marcia had charged me less than the industry standard. The number of hours she’d worked on the manuscript was on par with my own editing practices. Her math added up. My math had been based on a sense of lack.
My sense of lack had forgotten that I trusted Marcia. I had known all along what the charge would be, and there was enough money in our checking account to cover it, but the facts had no influence over deeply ingrained patterns. There's never enough, and that's that.
I made a cup of tea.
I turned to her critique summary, skimming. "… beautiful turns of phrase … lovely, contemplative, and moving …”
I leaped from my chair. Fists pumping the air, I hopped and stomped a wild-woman dance around the house. The world opened to me, a golden doorway into opportunity and joy.
A thought began to form, trying to take the joy away. There’s not enough. It’s selfish, ego-maniacal to feel this way.
I opened the invoice and was immediately miserable.
Back to the critique. “… seems to levitate with grace and confidence.”
I felt transcendent. The voice of lack was wrong. There was enough joy on the other side of that doorway to enfold the entire earth. There was grace.
I wanted everyone to feel this way.
Back to the invoice. Misery.
Back to the critique. Joy.
To signal the start of a thirty-minute meditation, the teacher rang a bell. “Focus on the breath. When your attention wanders, bring it back to the breath.”
I closed my eyes and inhaled deeply. One breath. Another. Dumb movie. In real life, that guy would never …
“Where is your attention?” the teacher asked.
Back to breathing. One breath. Another. This is nice. So quiet. Was that a cardinal? Wait, no.
“Where is your attention?”
One breath. Another. Need to cook the salmon before it spoils. With rice?
“Where is your attention?”
I played around with misery and joy. Opening the email was unnecessary. Merely thinking about either the critique or the invoice brought on shifting energies.
Critique in mind: I was driving Pacific Coast Highway in a convertible, sun on my shoulders, ocean spray against my face, and no particular place to be. Invoice: I was stuck in a traffic jam behind an eighteen-wheeler … in a downpour … late for a doctor’s appointment.
Where is your attention?
I wrote Marcia a check, enclosing a note of thanks. As the envelope slid into the mailbox at the post office, I levitated with grace and confidence.