Finding abundance isn't so much about redefining values, although that's certainly part of it, but cultivating a different way of seeing the world. We can welcome and celebrate abundance in one area while we work and wait for it to arrive in another. In fact, that seems like a good strategy to me--a way of moving through the world that makes it seem more welcoming, less threatening.
And while we mustn't escape those responsibilities we've set for ourselves in this life, walking through a friendlier world makes the task of living one more filled with joy than saddled with burden.
Sometimes, yes, if I want tomatoes I need to pluck the hornworms off the stems. If I want a decent cabbage crop, I've got to time the row covers, the season, and watch for moths. But for the most part, this is what the garden has taught me: to keep a watchful eye in my head but that my interference, for the most part, is unnecessary. I can let the tomato and lettuce volunteers grow where they plant themselves, watch them make the most of some intuitive alchemy of space and soil, arriving yards and yards away from where I planted them the year before.
The garden has taught me that I can love order and organization as much as I want, but that it only goes so far outside my back door. The garden has taught me to cultivate a certain amount of grudging fondness for the unknown and a little bit of love for blowsy disorder.
I'm not sure why I bother to try to understand why people do what they do. Perhaps if it were merely an idle curiosity in humanity, it might be a harmless hobby. But I think, for most of us, we try to ferret out motivations because we feel we can *do* something--stop them or help them, I suppose.
But the truth is, we can't, not even when they ask for help, at least not always. And then trying to solve every problem, avoid every conflict becomes exhausting and anxiety-provoking.
Instead, for the most part, I'm willing to live and let live (barring, of course, standing up against blatant hatred, bigotry, racism, bullying, etc. But that's a different post. We're talking garden-variety, non-hate bearing individuals here), and continue pottering around in my garden, understanding, at least in part, the very uncomplicated language of flowers.
Maybe we try to understand too much. Heck, maybe we *try* too much, full stop. This is, after all, the idea behind meditation, is it not? Simply to sit and let the universe do what it's going to do, not with our engagement, but with our observation, our paying witness?
I've never been one for organized activities, which is perhaps why I cannot for the life of me maintain a meditation practice. But I do love taking a spontaneous moment to sit and stare at nothing, to watch the world come about and move around me--and you know, when you allow that space of nothingness, you awaken to the fact that, moment by moment, there is infinite variety and nothing ever repeats itself.
How can we not believe in possibility when it's proved to us again and again, if we could find the generosity of spirit to do nothing but observe for minutes at a time?
Patience is certainly not my strong suit, but it's entirely my own fault. I focus, more often than not, on the endpoint, the final result. But, of course, the irony is that when I'm not focused on that endpoint, I'm perfectly happy in the moment-to-moment detail work that will, eventually, get me where I want to go.
You know how when you're so tired, you feel as though you have to, quite literally, pick up your limbs to keep you going? But once you're on your feet, it's not as bad as you'd feared? I think we have to do the same thing with our thoughts--as soon as they start kindling that impatience, we have to pick up our brains, settle them back in our heads, and focus with true absorption on the immediate--task at hand, the sounds in the moment, the sensations on our skin.
Because, really, this is only way we'll be sane enough to enjoy ourselves when we finally get there.
What you do matters. Being needed matters, yes, but being needed may not be synonymous with work that makes you feel vital, makes your contribution feel important. Are you needed because your mind, your skills, your craft is unique? Or are you simply filling a gap that neither supports nor nourishes you?
We love to feel challenged, and we love to overcome those challenges using only the gifts we have at hand--that kind of work is vitality, no matter what occupation you happen to practice. The salary involved doesn't matter because, as nice as money is, it does not measure your worth. What measures your worth is that moment just before sleep when you can honestly marvel that, yes, you did good work today.
No one needs to tell us that exhaustion distorts reality, heightens emotions, and makes us generally hard(er) to live with. So it makes no sense to view the world through a lens of exhaustion. And while we may not have the luxury of putting ourselves to bed for a much-needed rest, we do--I hope--have enough life experience to know when to call it a day, even if that day's just begun.
We can, when necessary, show up, go through the motions, phone it in--whatever you'd like to call it. The brain and the soul can rest while the body keeps us on this side of truancy.
It is so easy to let setbacks pull us back under the bell jar we'd finally managed to kick over. It's so tempting to wallow in the comforts of self-pity and catastrophic thinking. That they're absolutely the opposite of constructive action has no bearing in the argument--they call to us as does a gallon of ice cream's cold comfort after a really terrible day.
And though it may physically pain us to say the words 'thank you,' in such situations, let me put it this way: that you realized a) there was a bell jar, b) that you were in it, and c) that, honey, you ain't never going back there willingly, is enough cause--more than enough cause--for great, luscious, high-decibel thanks.
Some days, for some reason, just dawn with the question, 'Am I doing the right thing? And '*Have* I been doing the right thing?' And, 'If not, then what?'
It's that last question whose answer is impossible and elusive. Then what? Well. I have no idea. I suppose we just keep climbing. I suppose we pause, look around, grab a drink of water, and decide what this body needs--sun? shade? elevation?--and go from there.
I can't believe that a gender or a color or net worth requires a different level of interaction, a different flavor of respect or of formality. How can we not believe that we are all important, that we all have something of vital use to contribute? Respect and the benefit of the doubt are rights we were all born with, and worth must be determined by what we do and how we interact with the objects at hand and the beings in our immediate circle in this present moment.
This is how, moment by moment, we make our thoughtful way, navigating respectfully through this world.