When I opened my eyes this morning, I thought today was going to be just like any other day. I turned off my Himalayan salt lamp and drew the curtains open before reaching for my bed side gratitude journal and writing down three things I’m grateful for this morning:

  1. me
  2. myself
  3. & I

I went to the bathroom to empty my bladder and wash off my overnight face mask. My head was already buzzing with all the things I was going to do: I was going to open my Headspace app and meditate for 10 minutes, followed by some light yoga on my purple eco friendly yoga mat. I’ll then maybe sip on some turmeric tea—the kind that comes with little wisdoms attached to the tea bags like “appreciate yourself and honour your soul,” ahh! So profound—before making my way to work.

Little did I know the universe had other plans for me.

As I stood there in front of the sink, washing my face, I looked over at the toilet bowl and I see, to my complete horror, a piece of toilet paper swimming in the water. I immediately reached for the handle to flush it.

Okay it’s going, going… Oh no. No no no no no no.

And just like that, my relief turned into panic as the grim reality started to hit me, overwhelmingly and all at once:

My toilet is clogged.

I grew nauseous as the bathroom started to spin around me, streaks on the mirror getting grosser by the second. There’s hair in the sink, hair on the floor, hair curled together on the bath tub drain. I’m running out of toilet paper and my toothbrush is just THE UGLIEST green. Overcome by existential panic, I sat on the floor, hugged my knees in and rocked back and forth like any normal person would.

As the walls started closing in, I noticed, out of the corner of my eye, a yellow sticker under the sink. Must have been left by the landlord’s kids. I peered closer and it’s not just any yellow sticker: it’s a smiley, a Walmart smiley. It smiled at me benevolently with the wisdom of the universe. And in that moment I knew—I knew this had to be a sign, and that I was about to embark on a journey: A journey to Walmart.

I emailed my manager that I wasn’t going to make it to work today and resisted the urge to tap on the Uber app after I closed the email. For some reason it seemed more fitting to wait for the bus instead. As I dropped $3.65 worth of coins in the fare box, the bus driver smiled at me and I wonder if he knew.

The bus zoomed past the neighbourhood soccer field with kids in yellow jerseys. I sat up in my seat and looked around at the fellow bus riders joining me on this journey, remarkable in their diversity. A young man in a blue shirt. An older gentleman in white slacks with a white beard. A little old lady in a yellow hat with a grocery bag, smiling. Something tells me she’s on the path.

Sure enough, as the bus came to my requested stop, I watched as the little old lady gathered her grocery bag and slowly made her way to the front of the bus with perfect inner stillness. It was as if her whole body is filled with light. I immediately recognized a high level of mastery within her being that I’ve only had the honour of witnessing a few times in this life.

I slowly followed in her steps towards The Walmart™, being careful not to disturb. At a few meters from the automatic swinging doors, I had to pause and marvel at the colossal establishment of blue and white I was about the enter. In the same moment, I couldn’t help but notice, in front of me, the little old lady walking right through the doors without a moment of hesitation or change of pace, as if no barrier existed between the inside and the outside. I reprimanded myself for foolishly taking the time to pause. I knew I had to keep focused.

As the little old lady grabbed a blue shopping basket, so too, I grabbed a shopping basket. As she received a flyer from the Walmart greeter, so too, I greeted the greeter and received the flyer with both of my hands, my heart filling with gratitude.

We walked all the way to the personal care aisle, me always a few steps behind her. I pretended to look at the shaving cream as I watched the little old lady from the corner of my eye. What is she doing? She’s … she’s reaching for a toothbrush and … dropping it into her basket! My eyes followed her as she walked away and immediately rushed to the shelf to see what she had picked up. A Colgate toothbrush in brilliant, gorgeous purple, on sale for only $2.47. How did she know? I quickly took one off the shelf and walked in the direction she headed to see where she went next.

And she does it again. This time with toilet paper in the bathroom supplies aisle. Royale ultra soft 2-ply. ON SALE! I dropped one into my basket and continued to follow suit.

I then almost couldn’t believe my luck as we walked past a featured vacuum cleaner claiming to pick up any amount of hair. But then I had an awakening—I realized I already have a vacuum cleaner at home.

As the little old lady held up a box of frozen chicken Pad Thai, I had the somber realization that this is where our paths diverge and it’s time to part ways. I have my own journey to embark on. Resisting the tear in my eye I looked down at my flyer and, for the second time that day, the universe had given me a sign. This time in the form of a written message: “Free Scrubbing Bubbles all-purpose bathroom cleaner (for mirrors, tubs, toilets) with the purchase of any Royale toilet paper.”

I could not refuse the call.

My whole being teemed with excitement as I walked back to the bathroom supplies aisle. This time past where the toilet papers are and straight to the bathroom cleaners. With great anticipation, I took the Scrubbing Bubbles all-purpose bathroom cleaner off the shelf and as it fell into my basket I felt… incomplete? No no no. This feels all wrong. There’s something missing and I know it.

Just before I had given up all hope, there it was, in all of its rubbery glory, staring at me this whole time—if I wasn’t so caught up in the ecstasy of the toilet paper and the bathroom cleaner—the reason I had embarked on this journey all along.

I handed my credit card with a smile to the cashier as she scanned the toilet plunger, the last item on the conveyer belt.

“Do you have a bag?” she asks.

“No,” I said.

“That will be 10 cents extra,” she says.

I immediately thought back to the little old lady. Her yellow hat and her gentle smile. Her slow confident walk and… her grocery bag. She knew.

Before I knew it I was back home with a renewed confidence. I opened my bathroom door and, instead of feeling lost, I knew exactly what I had to do. As the toilet flushed with a beautiful, satisfying sound, I looked around at the spotless mirror, the clean sink, the clean floor, and the clean bathtub drain. I slid a fresh roll of toilet paper into the holder and gave out a sigh at the sight of my new purple toothbrush.

I picked up my Walmart shopping bag and a white slip of paper fell to the floor—it’s the receipt. I squatted to look and a smile came over my face as I read the four words at the bottom which made me realize what this journey had been all about:

“Save money. Live better. ☺ ”