Tag Archives: abundance

Sparks will fly #3 #taking

Riffing off a conversation during the week about the difference between giving and receiving and giving and taking has set some sparks flying.  I am pretty good at giving and I am getting better at receiving but the idea of taking that is foreign territory. What does it mean to take?  Literally to grab something with both hands, yank it into your life, pull it towards you feels a little violent and perhaps even greedy or entitled … but what if it was about showing up, leaving nothing to chance, proactively and decisively making a claim? I think I am out of practice at taking a trick. We played a lot of cards and board games when I was growing up but no so much in recent times.  I steered away from competitive activities and have somehow aligned taking with competition – if I have something then someone else doesn’t.  This is not true.  That is a scarcity mentality and that doesn’t line up with my usual approach to life around abundance.

Taking and giving are not mutually exclusive. I can take a photograph and enhance the beauty of what is there and see something new and give that to others. I can take a position and advocate to be more inclusive which opens up, not closes down possibilities. I can take what I imagine is potentially mine and that need not be taking from another or from someone else’s future. There is intentionality in taking that feels quite different to the humility of receiving.  This is sparking me up to consider what might I like to take from this time?  What might I want to manifest, grab with both hands … make happen, instead of passively let happen?  Alert: No children will be harmed in the making of taking.

With the death of Mary Oliver this week I have been reflecting on her legacy to future generations and how even a tiny spark of her talent has held me many times. She took from the natural world and shared her insights. She absorbed, at a cellular level the lessons of all things elemental. While we received, she did take, and knead and hold and filter and fuse. I am sure she would have seen her taking as necessary for her to give.  In fact her instruction is quiet clear in her famous One Summer Day poem meditating on the grasshopper – what is your plan to do with your one wild and precious life?  Embedded in that line is a confirmation and imprimatur, to be wild, accept your life as uniquely precious and irreplaceable, unable to be replicated as each day, each moment to be spent by only you and the way to you spend it. Making a plan includes giving, receiving and taking. Paying attention to falling down, kneeling, rolling in the grass, gazing around, floating away – these are all instructions from the school of life and living includes pushing through pain barriers in dark days, unfurling wings while they are still wet, moving the jaws up and down, ruminating, chewing through things hard to swallow, being nourished and fed in the process.  I don’t know what a prayer is either, but the spark to consider taking as well as receiving and not making anyone else the poorer, weaker or losing in the process that may also make be richer, stronger and a winner along the way is worth considering … and even a bit of planning.  Here’s to the summer day!

Who made the world?
Who made the swan, and the black bear?
Who made the grasshopper?
This grasshopper, I mean–
the one who has flung herself out of the grass,
the one who is eating sugar out of my hand,
who is moving her jaws back and forth instead of up and down —
who is gazing around with her enormous and complicated eyes.
Now she lifts her pale forearms and thoroughly washes her face.
Now she snaps her wings open, and floats away.
I don’t know exactly what a prayer is.
I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down
into the grass, how to kneel in the grass,
how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields
which is what I have been doing all day.
Tell me, what else should I have done?
Doesn’t everything die at last, and too soon?
Tell me, what is it you plan to do
With your one wild and precious life?

by Mary Oliver

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Photo by Chris Galbraith on Unsplash

ps To hear or read an interview with Mary Oliver and Krista Tippett from On Being click here.

 

Year of Self Compassion #31 #scarcity

Having an experience of scarcity seems like an indulgent first world problem to me and yet I go tripping down that rabbit warren more than I have for a long time. Having downsized my life in most ways in the last year, not all at my own hand, I often catch myself wanting.  I recall my economics classes where the lesson that resources are finite, and an insatiable appetite for growth featured regularly.  This economic equation keeps revisiting me at so many levels, practical, spiritual, meta physical.  I want more – one last conversation, one last kiss, one last meal. I want less – one less speeding fine, one less demand, one less choice.

The invitation to simplicity is one giant mathematical computation of complexity that results in an overwhelming sense of a sum zero game that I never asked to play.  This see-saw of being grateful for what I have and feeling a paucity of intimacy is quite exhausting. The ups and downs of the see-saw are grief on her ride through me and the interior landscapes I traverse. Many of these lands are new to me, and some I keep revisiting looking for meaning and magic to unlock and hold memories, hoping the voyage of this Dawn Treader will come to shore soon to rest and find me in a safe habour.   I know I am in a safe habour all the time and I do have enough of all that I need. Yet …

There are triggers all around that sneak up and remind me of scarcity. I see couples making plans for a life together and I want to warn them how it will all end. I hear the dog barking next door, wearing himself out waiting for his family to come home and his loneliness grows and then dissipates giving up just before they arrive. I feel the ash, and am infused with the smell of the fire from the broken limbs fallen from the wild winds the night before, that I have made into a little hearth in the back yard, and I think about the differences between being buried and cremated. (How does carbon get stored and released?) That leads me to think about land, the scarcity of it, my carbon footprint, the legacy I leave by all my actions. This is not living abundantly, my scarcity lens is keeping me from fullness and it refuses to leave me and contributing to a feeling of self-indulgence.

Theologians and economists have always found abundance and scarcity a point of difference. I think the root of the challenge to get this balance right, lies somewhere in gratitude, generosity and hope. Being generous is a sign of abundance, my biggest currency has always been time and now I realise how finite time is and I am making more choices with me at the middle of the equation, again a new landscape and one where I am yet to master. Being grateful is a practice and I am trying to be agnostic about what I am grateful for, everything can be appreciated and received with kindness. This practice seems to be woven with respect and recognition, actually being able to notice the gift however unseemly wrapped it comes to me. Hope offers potential to shape what will come next and to be an actor in that future without letting the scarcity filter, is a daily exercise in my inner life gym.

In this year of self-compassion, I am struggling to replace scarcity with abundance which has been my default for so long. Privileges I took for granted or worse, hadn’t even noticed I had. These privileges are now inviting me to pivot, flipping abundance for  scarcity, There are invitations waiting for me to find the wealth within, the freedom of less and joy of simplicity.  I will try not to shame myself too much for defining this feeling of scarcity as a first world problem, as it is teaching me to be more mindful, more conscious of my consumption of all kinds of things from air time to fossil fuels. To be more gentle on myself and grateful for all the times I have been generous and how that disposition is one of the key reasons for the depth of the wound. After all something that is scarce is also rare and therefore usually incredibly precious and perhaps that is the clue to the relationship between abundance and scarcity – the rare space that one creates for the other.

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Photo by Sam Soffes on Unsplash

Generosity

Dear Sor Juana,

Generosity is beautiful. Sharing what you have in abundance may be easy, and sharing what little you might have perhaps more challenging – in either circumstances the gift, freely given reveals whole-heartedness. I have seen so much generosity this past week and in each case it has flowed from a rich vein of being part of something bigger than the giver or receiver. Going so far beyond charity or courtesy to almost regal magnanimity, these acts of generosity have touched me deeply and I have been blessed as witness to these actions. The gifts have all been priceless, without a price on the market and unable to be purchased. They have been wrapped up love and a demonstration of the commitment of the giver to the receiver. They hold promise and are a sign of harvest. I am caught in the glow of the acts of generosity and through no efforts of my own, get to bask in some of the reflected light. So different to being in the shadow of stinginess and meanness that has a way of dragging you down with it, generosity lifts you up and fills spaces beyond itself.

I have seen generosity with my own eyes; it is good, humble and wise. Meanness though is more like pride in disguise, wanting to mark its territory and transacting relationships with malevolence. I yearn for more generosity in our world, unlocking what we have to share with others and tapping into our humanity, for there is enough for all of us to have a fair share of the bounty of our planet. There is enough love to go around as that astonishing emotion amplifies the more it is given away.

When I see meanness of spirit I am repulsed and want to turn away, yet there are days when I am looking at train wreck, unable to avert my eyes from the meanness and getting dragged down into the mud because of it. I need to look up and look around to see all the generosity in abundance and turn away from the scarcity world view draining the way we live as a nation.

I was excited to learn this week one of the new whizz bang apps designed by young hackers was an app for homeless people and those with a spare room to find each other – a sort of underground Air BnB. I am in wonder and awe of the creativity (given freely as a volunteer) and the joy in other people’s willingness to share. Just like the publican in the famous story of a mother giving birth to a son in a stable there is always room for Generosity to be born.

A scarcity mentality and approach is ugly. Sharing is all about giving away knowledge, information, ideas, smiles, hugs, time, skills, money, spare spaces. Living generously brings an intimacy and knowing of our deep connectedness. By releasing what we have in abundance or even just a little of, opens us up to new possibilities and being witness to that opens me up a little more too.

Is it time to take down the “No Room at the Inn” sign and put out the welcome mat in your heart?

Living Generously

Living Generously