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Annie Turner

Annie Turner
Having a Conversation

Wednesday, October 21, 2015


Recently, I've been having an email discussion with a cousin who lives on the West Coast about what kinds of shopping best match our psychic wounds. Perhaps you haven't considered this, but let's explore it a bit, and we will forget for the moment a Tibetan monk's lament that it is hard to rouse Americans to spiritual awakening when our major form of entertainment is shopping.

Case in point: three (3!!) weeks ago I got my period. Really? At two months away from turning 70? Something clearly is not right in the uterine universe. When I went to see my doc, the assistant asked me with a wicked grin, "So, how does it feel to be 17 again?" "It sucks!" I snapped, trying not to appear too PMSish. I had forgotten the business of having a period, but I had not forgotten how to be cranky.

Back home, after a session with Tylenol and a heating pad (is this TMI?), I went to my favorite online shopping site with 1-click ordering. "Hmmm," I mused, "what goodies match this particular horribleness?" I roamed around various departments, looking at religious medals, cheap silver-imitation jewelry, too-expensive Pendleton wool coats, and then--ah!--lacy underwear. My finger trembled, then sprang into action; when I was done, I had bought 5 pairs of beautiful, lacy underwear which went a long way towards salving my wounded and sometimes worried psyche.

Now, I know that I am privileged, have health-care, do not live in Syria or Baltimore, and am blessed with gifts, love, and luck. But I think it is good to write a semi-humorous essay about how to take care of some of life's sharp bits. To go back to my cousin: she has a relative who in the evil-relative department probably scores in the high 10,000. In a just world she would wind up naked, stuck in the ice in Dante's 7th-circle of hell with no hope of a G & T or an Ativan. This cousin, when coming off a boxing match with said relative, also goes to Amazon, or Marshall's, or T.J.'s, returning with soft, cozy sweaters or soft, cozy pajamas in shades of purple and green plaid. This has some significance which I haven't worked out yet.

Let's get more creative here:  My husband finds that ordering new technology helps ease some of life's harder parts. My son and daughter-in-law, as marathon runners (this weekend in D.C.!) are always in need of expensive running shoes, wicking shirts, and other bits of specialized clothing. I bet these help with some of the more tricky passages in their lives. One of the members of my Writers' Group likes shopping for shoes when things get rough. But then, she likes shopping for shoes no matter the psychic weather.

 I do not mean to suggest that buying things automatically takes care of our wounds; there are surely other things and spiritual practices which help us walk over the rutted bits in the road, such as--Centering Prayer, singing Taize in the shower, holding hands with a loved one, playing Audrey Assad and singing along with her, and praying on one's knees.  You have your own ways of dealing with stress, but when your pocketbook can afford it, and you have already donated money to help the Syrian refugees, maybe a tour around a favorite shopping site can help you get through a tough day. Just remember to match up the goods you buy with the wound you've suffered.

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