Friday, August 18, 2006

Paying the Price for Your Dreams--Grocery Shopping Expedition

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This story happened a few years after quitting Wall Street in 1996. I was starting over to follow my dreams of becoming a motivational speaker and author.

The decision to switch gears led me to one of the most challenging times of my life. Because of this life altering change, there was a heavy price to pay. While making the transition, I was struggling to pay the rent. But one has to eat, right?

One morning, the refrigerator and cupboards told me it was time to restock them. Making an ATM withdrawal of $40, the amount I had budgeted for groceries, I headed for the nearest supermarket, eight city blocks away.

Arriving at the store twenty minutes later, I grabbed a cart and went shopping. After an hour of walking up and down the aisles, I had everything I needed and went to the checkout lane.

The overweight, gum-popping cash register girl said in a monotone voice, “How ya doing?” She was totally oblivious to me. Ringing up item after item was just a clock-punching job to her. She was looking totally bored. My eyes, on the other hand, were riveted to the cash register; desperately hoping $40 would be enough.

I may be deaf but I swear I heard the chime of the cash register that day when she pressed the total button. It came to $39.99. Never in my life was I so glad to open the palm of my hand for one penny in change!

Deliriously happy that I had enough food for the week, I had totally forgotten that I would not be hauling groceries back to the apartment via taxicab. As soon as I stepped outside, I smacked into a wall of sweltering heat. In a hurry to escape such oppressive conditions, I absentmindedly went to flag down a cab but then I remembered.

I didn't have enough money.

Eight long blocks.

Gritting my teeth and taking a deep breath, I grabbed 5 heavy bags in each hand and started the trek home. Before I knew it, I was muttering a litany of expletives, defiantly annoyed at the prospect of having to carry a truckload of groceries. By the time I arrived at the curb to begin the trek uptown, sweat was pouring down my face. I was very hot and bothered. Pity anyone who was near me.

Because my hands and shoulders were aching, I decided to take a quick break. Setting the bags down, I rubbed my reddened hands and took a swig of bottled water. As I was drinking, images of starving children in Africa flashed through my mind followed by a simple yet profound reminder: "Be thankful you have food to eat this week. Have faith, things will work out."

I immediately knew where that came from. Instantly awashed with renewed gratitude, I looked up a the blue sky and said a silent prayer of thanks. Then I made the rest of the way home without further incident.

Food for thought: If you have just enough faith to pursue your dreams, you will always be provided for as long as you take responsibility for the consequences of your choices.
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