By: Ali Elizabeth Turner

Have you ever been “minding your own business,” not particularly in a contemplative state, and have something smack you right upside the head and profoundly change you? I am happy to say I have had several of those gloriously unsettling epiphanies in my 65 years of life, and I would like to share one with you that occurred two weeks ago when I was coming back from Florence with the latest edition of Athens Now. The wrapped pallet of newspaper bundles was in the back of my old GMC truck; it was raining bats and cats, and I needed to get gas.

I make a point of flooding my being with inspirational teachings on a daily basis, and one of my rituals is to listen to what is on average a five-minute personal development/business broadcast called Darren Daily. I highly recommend it, even though sometimes I don’t agree with some of Darren Hardy’s points. As the rain came down and my tank filled up, I sat in the Sierra and listened to Darren tell the story of Mohini, a rare and wonderful white tiger whose life is a cautionary tale for any area in your life that you have allowed to be crippled.

In 1960, in the last months of Dwight Eisenhower’s administration, the nation of India gave him a gift in the form of one of only seven white tigers in the world, and the only one that had ever left their country. Now, you can’t exactly have a white tiger romping around the West Wing, so Mohini was donated to the Washington Zoo. While a modern enclosure that would be roomy as well as reminiscent of a tiger’s natural environs was being prepared for Mohini, she was temporarily placed in a 12x12 foot enclosure, and was well cared for. She spent her days in constant activity, pacing back and forth, back and forth. Finally, the day came when she was going to get a chance to try out her fancy new digs, and upon entering her new home, she chose to mark off a 12x12 foot space where she began to pace back and forth. The zookeepers thought that eventually she would realize that she had plenty of room to run, play, and explore, but for the rest of her life, until 1979, that’s where she stayed. She lived there, gave birth there, and died there, having spent her life in non-stop movement, but essentially going nowhere.

I was so struck by this analogy that I sat in the truck for a while and wept, both in rage as well as relief, and then finally in rejoicing. I had to come to grips with the fact that for 55 years I had allowed someone else to determine how much money it was okay for me to make, or how much “success” I could achieve (something which is different to each individual) and that someone was Karl Marx. While I had rejected Marxism once I became a believer in 1970, the nuanced guilt trip that said I somehow had to pay for things that happened centuries ago had kept me in a subtle mindset of scarcity; and self-sabotage made sure that I never put more than one paw out of my self-imposed 144 square feet. It was brutal to face down the fact that out of guilt and fear I had indeed “buried in a napkin” talents that belong only to my Master, and the worst part was that I didn’t even know it. But, oh, the liberty of the last two weeks has been luscious! All I can say is, “Free at last!” followed by,” Karl, it’s over, and I’m taking what the Judge says is mine. See ya; wouldn’t want to be ya!”

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