Saturday, March 9, 2013

Red Leather Guilt Trip



On Sunday I will be speaking about boundaries and borders. It brought to mind a visceral  memory  illustrates the body-mind connection. Many years ago, long before I had a cell phone, while still living in Edmonton, Canada, I traveled to Southern California to attend a work-related conference.

One of the days of the conference was free time including time to go on a bus tour of Tijuana. I was agog over all the bright colors and wonderful bargains! I bought a few inexpensive souvenirs and a beautiful red leather jacket and a purse to match for much less than I would have paid in Canada. I loved that jacket and the purse; the jacket was stylish and fit me perfectly; the purse was large and roomy. The purse may have been a tad large for someone my size, a petit  five foot two. I started wearing the jacket and using the purse immediately.

A few days later I was returning from Los Angeles to Edmonton via Vancouver. I had arranged for an overnight with my friend who was going to pick me up at the airport. All travelers fill out a customs declaration upon entering the country. All countries have rules about the value of merchandise that is allowed. I was wearing my new jacket and carrying my purse which I failed to declare. ( If I had declared them I would have been "over" the allowed limit.) So I conveniently "forgot" them. This was not the brightest idea since the leather still smelled brand new!

Upon entering Canada, I was detained and interrogated by the customs officers for over two hours. It was awful! I was called a smuggler! The officer called me a smuggler, a liar, and a dishonest person! The more she attacked me, the worse I felt about myself. When she went through my wallet, she found my membership card from my spiritual center. She actually attended the sister center on Vancouver Island, and started being somewhat kinder. However, the damage had been done. I now agreed with her that I was a terrible person who really didn't have any ethics or morals! I started to sweat. My stomach started to heave.  I was feeling GUILTY! I have always known that there is a mind-body connection, and I experienced it in spades that evening.

By the time I was released, my friend had given up on me, thought I had missed the flight, and gone home to bed! All hotel rooms around the Vancouver airport were booked. I finally found one but had to take a taxi to it. It was more expensive than I would have normally paid. It was a beautiful room but I didn't enjoy it much, since I spent most of the night in the bathroom. I was very sick for the next three days.

So what happens when a person wants to bring more merchandise into the country than she is allowed? Is she imprisoned? Does she have to send the goods back or leave them in the airport? Nothing like that! After being dragged through the wringer, I found out that if I had made an honest declaration, I would have been charged a tax on the excess. It isn't even much unless they catch you smuggling! Then it is an exorbitant tax. But honestly, the Canadian customs didn't have to punish me, I was doing a great job punishing myself.

 So from a practical point of view, not only did I not get a good bargain on my new jacket and purse, which ended up costing me, three times what I would have paid in Canada, but also I missed three days of work due to illness, missed a visit with a friend and inconvenienced her, and felt like HELL!

Whenever I travel my new motto is to declare every penny. I feel so much better. I like myself! Here is the greatest part: even when I am over the limit, I don't get charged. It actually does pay to be honest!