From Matchsticks to Mansions

Housing is always a topic here in San Francisco – ridiculously increasing prices, shady Ellis Act evictions, wars between techies and non-techies and misinformation all around.

But, here is a *somewhat* uplifting story about housing-or at least how we ALL have worth.Mansion

A few years ago, my beloved yoga teacher Rusty Wells had us do an experiment during teacher training. We’d been discussing just how many yoga teachers were being churned out of Teacher Trainings throughout San Francisco. The competition seemed overwhelming to us even though most of us signed up to ‘Deepen our Practice’ and not to teach.

Instead of just debating the issue- we did this. Rusty showed us a pack of matches-one of those that have 1000 in the pack and sold for like $5. He said ‘What is a match worth?’ Before we could even do the math (.00001 cents or something like that?), he made his point. ‘A match itself isn’t worth much but what if you were camping and needed to make a fire? What if you had to light a stove? What if you’re a smoker?- How much is a match worth then?’

Then he challenged us to go out during our lunch hour and ‘Trade Up’ our match.

We could go anywhere throughout the city provided we were back within 1 hour. Our instructions were to trade the match for whatever we could get-and continue to trade ‘UP’  Once our hour was over-we had to return and show what we came up with. It sounded much like the old story about Man Trades Up From Paper Clip to House (Sadly none of us ended up with a house)

Some of us broke out on our own-some (like myself) traveled in groups. Some people hit up Dolores Park (and traded up to PBRs and snacks) some went to visit local friends for help to try and Trump the challenge (but ended up finding a deep spiritual lesson) some decided to bail on the whole thing.

At the end-people collected some amazing booty– a brand new bike, a large screen TV and even a HUGE letter W.

The lesson was this-we all have our own gifts to offer if we just believe in the value of what we have. This reflects the belief of Patanjali -the great sage and author of the Yoga Sutras.


Now, years after that training, people’s lives have changed. Quite a few are now yoga teachers, many quit jobs that weren’t in alignment with their spiritual path, some divorced or moved or made huge life shifts. But, we were all affected by that exercise.

And, sadly, the yoga studio that Rusty Wells started became it’s own victim of the ever rising rents of San Francisco Urban Flow Latest Yoga Studio to be Pushed Out

Yet, the crew continues to remain connected-to support each other and our crazy dreams-and to hold onto hope that our home will return again.

If a guy from Canada can trade from a paperclip to a house- imagine what a bunch of Badass Yogis can do??


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