by Yogi Aaron
Last summer I traveled through Spain on a glorious holiday catching up with old friends, luxuriating in winery hotels, and getting some much-needed relaxation. And then one day in Barcelona, I had an experience that, to this day, has still haunted me. Here is what I wrote in my journal.
Did I Abandon You?
Today in Barcelona I woke up and was very happy (I am usually a happy yogi). And after a delicious breakfast and cup of coffee, I headed out for a self-guided walking tour of Barcelona.
As I was making my way down one of the central streets in Barcelona, my eyes caught a glimpse of a woman who only had one arm while sitting with a sign around here neck that said, “Tengo hambre.” Next to her was a mutt curled up sleeping.
I instinctively kept walking. But after five paces, I stopped and dug into my pickets for some loose change (In the past couple of years I have been consciously giving change to the homeless and people in need).
In that moment I stopped and thought, “I can do more than throw some change at this person,” while thinking of her dog and one arm. So I dug a little deeper and pulled out a bigger bill. It was not that big, but it was substantial enough to buy her two meals. Maybe three if she stretched it enough.
I turned around, walked up and handed her the bill. I handed the bill directly to her, in her hand, not wanting to put it in her can for fear of drawing attention or the bill blowing away.
She took the bill and saw it and then looked at up at me, dead center in my eyes with so much heartfelt… And those eyes have haunted me all day.
In that moment as I walked away, I thought about all of those helpless children who are only 5 years old at the US/Mexico border and being turned away, sent back to a form of slavery, or a life to awful for me to fathom.
And I also thought about all those people in America who are trying to help them.
I remembered a time when I was 13, stranded in an airport in Edmonton with no money to get help, call home, and wondering how I was going to get through the night while feeling really alone. All I wanted in that moment was my mommy and daddy.
I thought about the quote from a scripture: “I was hungry and you gave me shelter.”
I thought about the clean and very comfortable hotel room waiting for me when I was finished with my day. The shower I would take and the soap I would use to wash my body. And the soft bed with clean white sheets I would sleep in.
I thought about her dog and then realized she probably would buy food for him first before feeding herself.
I thought about the wonderful meals I would have twice more today and the massage I was planning to have.
I really could have dug into my pockets a little deeper. I could have.
I could have given her my hotel room for the night and either slept in my car or found another room.
How much more could I have offered.
And I kept walking.
About the Author
Yogi Aaron brings passion and adventure to his teaching. Inspired, he guides students to secret and far-flung locales, empowers them to realize their own limitless potential, and makes yoga relevant and accessible for the modern world. Since 2002 he has been traveling and leading retreats worldwide and currently, serves as the yoga director at Blue Osa Yoga Retreat + Spa in Costa Rica .