So, yesterday morning my backpack was stolen. Luckily I had my phone, keys and money on my person. My more sentimental items, on the other hand, were inside of the bag that had accompanied me to most places (and classes) during the past few years.

First of all, let me explain that Barcelona is notorious for professional pickpocketing. They even say that it used to be one of the places that sneaky people would come to learn the art, that there was actually a “school” for thievery. I have been here so long and have had so many encounters along the way with being robbed, helping people who’d been robbed, hearing stories about people being robbed, and so on…

I have been highly trained in the art of keeping an eye on one’s belongings and NEVER leaving them set down some place, not even at a party with “cool” people. I’d had things gaffled at those places too…a jacket, phoneS… I even did my own test once at a festival…I went to the bathroom and on the way in I saw a group of peers sitting outside that I thought might enjoy my amazing kaleidoscope. I asked them if they’d like to have a look and just hang onto it for me for a moment while I went into the powder room. Sure enough, in less than 5 minutes, they were gone.

I have experienced all different levels of thought and emotion around this subject and have had countless conversations about it. The general rule of thumb in society seems to be that thieves are vulgar nouns and that they deserve this and that sort of torture, blah, blah, blah… That has never resonated with me. No, I correct myself, it did when I was 12 years old and wanted Saddam Hussein done away with.

I hadn’t been robbed in many years up until yesterday, when I somehow acted completely out of character. I consciously placed my backpack on top of my friend’s that was nicely nestled in the stroller in the corner of one of our favorite local vegan spots, Gopal. IN PLAÇA DE TRIPI!!!!!!!!!! (also known as Plaça George Orwell) What?????? THAT is probably the most famous place to be robbed in the city, besides on the metro… I really don’t know how that happened being in my right body and mind. I guess my higher self said, “Hey, we need to check in here with you about your reactions to this type of violation on the physical plane,” and guided my hand. I don’t even put my bag down like that in the U.S. in places where only my friends are around, out of such strongly engrained habit.

So, shortly after this confusing behavior, I look at that place and sure enough it is gone. The acrobatics behind this type of thievery is so bewildering. None of us can figure out how it happened. How was the person not seen? How did the people from our group (almost on top of my bag) not sense anything at all? How did they reach my bag? How did the stroller not fall over? What the heck happened? Then the feelings come. Disgust, fear, sadness, anger…

This time it was very quick for me to process and let go. Gratitude quickly came and acceptance too. I think I suffered for about a minute and a half, maybe less. And not until the end of the day, about seven hours later, did I think about the person who’d taken my belongings and check in with myself about what I felt about them. In no moment did I ever feel any negativity toward them, although others that I shared the story with did. I also realise that any time an image of who that person could have been came to the movie screen of my mind, it was male. Interesting…

What was in my bag? (to give some perspective)
-my favorite wallet designed with emblematic Barcelona flowers
-my “important” cards (bank, bicing, I.D., health, etc.)
-pictures of my loved ones
-really cool pens that I got in the states
-a really cool book and game that I got in the states and was going to use in class with my students that day (I teach English.)
-10 felt roses that I have on me for fundraising for our project
-a very special journal with art and personal thoughts
-my agenda!!!! (good thing it’s January!)
-my lipsick and other makeup
-my tiger balm
-my thinking putty (that was a gift from Carlos for my last bday)
-homemade flash cards and papers for classes
-my favorite sock monkey hat (that was gift from the family I nannied for 17 years ago)
-my favorite gloves (that were a gift from Diana!!! She and I had matching ones!)
-the beautiful scarf that my mama gave me last time I saw her that I wear every day
-my USB stick
-a great book, 7 Spiritual Laws of Success

Blah, blah , blah….stuff, (and my attachment to it…)

This has been a great sort of “exam” for me. I can clearly see where I am on the forgiveness scale. I was only angry at myself. How could I be so careless??????
I was quick to forgive myself, in my opinion. Forgiving the thief was instantaneous. I can only imagine how much suffering they experience in their own heart and mind, and I wish them peace and freedom. We are all one, right? The form of their consequences are in the hands of the Universe.

I could also witness and observe the amount of bio-chemical alteration in my being once the reality hit me and where the feelings were gross and where and when they were subtle. The subtle feelings of disgust for being watched and taken advantage of lasted a bit longer, as the memory continued to appear in my mind throughout the day. The subtle feelings of sadness and fear also lasted throughout the day. These subtle feelings were very very sublte. So that shows me that the meditation that I am doing in my life is really benefitting me. I don’t know that I’d be able to objectively observe these things without a daily practice.

I feel like I have passed the test with flying colors and am super grateful for the experience. I do not wish for any more experiences like this in the future, but I am sure that I would not have been able to gauge my state of mind in such a way without an experience of its nature. And I can be sure that I will NOT be leaving my bag around Barcelona again, unless the Universe decides to guide my hands to what I can only call unexplicable nonsensical behavior.

Hope you have enjoyed reading this and that you continue to shine your light to the world! AND If you ever make it to Barcelona, PLEASE don’t think you are so experienced at traveling that it won’t happen to you. It’s sort of an “initiation” to Barcelona, as many of us longtime locals say… Don’t leave your valubles on tables in cafes, restaurants, etc. NEVER put your bag down without some form of attachment to an aware person. Be extra cautious on public transport, in crowds, and when people randomly start talking to you on the street, for ANY reason. I have seen this type of pickpocketing on numerous occasions. You are also a million times more likely to be a target if you’re inebriated. I hear people getting robbed in the middle of the night all the time from my bedroom window in the center of town.

People used to get their bags stolen so often in the Ciutadella park that a good friend Buzz, (who was actually visiting and with me when I got robbed the other day) planted a backpack filled with poop as a decoy, and sure enough…it was taken!

Before I moved in here in 2000, I divinely stumbled upon an article online that said “Before You Come to Barcelona, READ THIS!” Thankfully, I did. It was a long and descriptive text about all of the “normal” looking con-artists (with photographs of some of them) that have been making their livings on the streets here forever. Many of them were from the states. It also stated where they usually hung out. I took that pretty seriously. Yet I proceeded to have my own “INITIATION”. All I can say is that I think I have learned my lesson already. 🙂

Thanks for listening. If you have your own Barcelona theft stories, we’d love to hear about the lessons learned! Please comment below! 🙂

I found this great video today form the excellent Gabrielle Bernstien about instantly changing our moods from negative to positive. This technique can be especially helpful in these types of situations! Enjoy!