I looked up from my squat position in the driveway where I was saying hello to my friend Ole’s two exuberant little dogs, Ziggy and Perdy, who had just jumped out of her car and were running in euphoric circles around me.
“I need a washcloth right away,” exclaimed Ole as she shut the car door and briskly started walking towards us.
Being a woman who occasionally is capable of drumming up a bit of fashion sense, I completely understood the urgency in her voice. Ole was wearing black pants, and toothpaste can bleach clothes. So I stood up and sprung into action.
“Let’s get everybody inside and I’ll get you a washcloth right away,” I said, while quickly hugging her hello.
The problem is, the minute we walked into my house, Yoda, Ziggy and Perdy completely lost their minds with happiness. They hadn’t seen each other since I moved out of the little blue house in January. Then Ole and I followed the dogs out onto my deck where we were distracted even further. You see, when I moved out of the little blue house, I moved into a tree house. My house is built into a hill and the deck off my living room overlooks the tree tops to a somewhat majestic sweeping view of rolling hills. The sun was setting, so we quickly poured two glasses of prosecco and settled in to watch the sky turn luminous colors of purple, yellow and orange. We both completely forgot about Ole’s toothpaste pants.
The next morning as Yoda and I sat on the tree house deck while I drank my coffee, I remembered with a jolt that I never gave Ole a washcloth. I immediately called her, gushing my apologies and asking if her pants were okay. She laughed and said she remembered the toothpaste when she got home, and the toothpaste came right out.
“Isn’t that typical of life?” she said. “I waste so much energy worrying about little things that at the end of the day, don’t really matter.”
I can relate. I have always expended far too much energy worrying about trivial things over which I have absolutely no control.
The next week when I saw Ole at boot camp, we started talking while we ran our warm up lap about how we both couldn’t stop thinking about the symbolism of her toothpaste pants. She told me that the night before her roommate had made some snarky remarks to her. Ole left the room and quietly said “toothpaste pants” to herself as a reminder that in the grand scheme of things what this roommate thought didn’t really matter, especially because the following week Ole was going to be moving out anyway.
I told her I had been saying “toothpaste pants” to myself too, especially when I received my unexpectedly large tax bill last month. I said it again recently when one of my consulting clients told me they could only pay half of the invoice I had just sent, and I had been counting on the payment of that particular invoice to pay my taxes.
I’m finding that saying “toothpaste pants” to myself is a reminder to let go of the small things in life. If I allow negative or worrying thoughts to fester and grow, they take over space in my psyche that could actually be better used for enjoying the present moment. And by enjoying the present moment, I really believe I’m opening up space inside of me for the Universe to work a little behind-the-scenes magic. In the case of my unpaid invoice, by letting go of my frustration with my client, what ended up happening is a new little project unexpectedly landed in my lap. The fee I’m being paid for this project is, yes, you guessed it, just enough to pay my tax bill.