Max is a very picky eater. He and I have this drama that unfolds this way almost every few days. He opens the fridge hunkering for a snack. He sees carrots and cheese and milk and leftover Thai food. He sees peanut butter and apples and some fish. He does not see leftover pizza –the only food that he thinks will “scratch his itch”. And so he closes the fridge. And whines. And he declares himself starving.
He doesn’t just think he is starving. He IS hungry because he has refused to eat. Dug in his heels. His stomach rumbles because he did not take in what was offered. He didn’t see the mountains of food in the fridge as nurturing healthy goodness, but rather he saw it as “not quite right”. He has rejected it. In those moments, with an empty belly and a mind set on pizza, he really is starving even as he stands before a refrigerator that is full.
“You have everything you need.”
When teachers, doctors and friends whisper those words to me I both am deeply comforted and deeply cynical.
I love the idea that I have everything I need. And yet, it is one thing to intellectually understand that “I have everything I need” and quite another to feel the full weight of that. Really feel it and trust it. I have struggled with the whole abundance notion.
Truth is, I can be more like my picky eater son than I care to admit–at least at a metaphorical level. I sometimes find myself standing at a the Universe’s fridge, staring at the makings of a feast, and not finding the thing I think will scratch my itch, I close the door without taking anything and declare myself starved.
Its not hard to see how this happens, how we can miss the abundance laid out for us in all of its juicy goodness. Afterall, we are trained to think in terms of scarcity. Not enough energy, not enough time, not enough money. That is a story our society trains us to tell ourselves over and over again. Its the excuse we make for why we don’t write more, or call more, or practice more. We say not enough so much that we start to believe it and it becomes like a mist that starts to cloud up our lives.
In some cases, I walked right by gifts offered up lovingly by the universe, certain that they were not meant for me. Sometimes I have rushed right by, telling myself I didn’t have time to open the door and peak in, believing I didn’t even have the time to stop and explore and that chances are there would be nothing there anyway.
In other cases, perhaps, I have not even seen the abundance offered because I was so attached to it showing up differently I just couldn’t see it. Truth is, it is easy to open a fridge full of delicious food and declare yourself starving when you can’t find the one thing that you thought you wanted, the deliciousness you had been dreaming about all day.
And yet I have come to believe that this small shift in perspective is the difference between a life full to bursting with joy and love and one in which I feel like I am depleted. Its not simply a matter of gratitude. Its hard to be grateful for something that for one reason or another you simply don’t see. How often have I for one reason or another missed a chance to be nurtured, nourished and held by the universe because I closed the door not recognizing the gift that showed up. How often have I wandered through a banquet feeling starved because I can’t get my mind off pizza.
I am trying to make a practice of seeing the gifts life offers me. Here are just three things I am doing to remind my hungry self that there always is enough:
1. Make a practice of saying yes whenever something lovely is offered. If it turns out I really don’t need it I can pass it along and share the joy. But by saying yes I allow myself to consider and hold what is offered as a gift. By making space for it in my life I can see it.
2. When I find spare change, I tell myself that it is a reminder that there always is enough, even if it shows up in small bits. I immediately put it in a special jar on my altar to remind myself that what we need always shows up.
3. Make what I need from what I have. Make the cookies or the salad from whatever is on hand, even if it is no trouble to run out to get the one thing that feels missing. Redecorate the room from whatever is found in the attic and the basement. Dig through the bottom of the craft bin to make art. See that it all comes together perfectly without any extra steps or trips or additions.
I am curious about how you are cultivating the sense of abundance in your life. How do you celebrate it? How do you teach your eyes to see it? I am opening the comments up and hoping you will play along so I can learn from you.