I've been thinking a lot about abundance lately. More than that, how fortunate I am in so many ways.
I confess, November often brings this feeling, as we begin the delicate slide into Thanksgiving, with its visions of Norman-Rockwell family gatherings, turkeys the size of pony kegs and so much food the guests at the table consume enough calories for three days and collapse in a tryptophan stupor on the floor or sofa.
I remember the first Thanksgiving my dad, uncle, cousins and I spent in Cleveland, the year after our moms had died. I remember a lot about that year -- trying to find something to be grateful for when what we loved and valued most was gone being one thing. I remember tears and smiles. But I also remember being sprawled on the floor, too full to move.
I don't do that anymore. I don't know if I've changed or our world and how we celebrate things has or if it's a little of both. Thanksgivings have become less gluttonous. More meaningful.
But there has always been plenty. Plenty of food on the table. Plenty of heat if it was cold. Plenty of furniture to relax in, television for those who cared to watch the game or the "A Christmas Story" marathon that TBS used to run each year. Plenty of stuff. I'm not quite a hoarder. But let's just say I have a hard time parting with things that I like -- and if I didn't like it, I wouldn't have it.
Yes, it's easy to turn thoughts to abundance at this time of year, but I had a bit of a jump start a few weeks ago. Perhaps that's what happens when you get complacent. You jump.
Without going into a great deal of detail that wouldn't be appropriate here, Rick recently began an acquaintanceship with a man he met on the mornings he takes his laptop to the coffee shop, something he does regularly. After several months of this acquaintance, Rick's friend asked us to dinner, and we met at a local restaurant on homecoming weekend.
The traffic was terrible, buses redirected. We were both a little late, and our new friend much later. When he finally arrived, the relief on his face that we were still there was nearly heartbreaking. He'd walked a great distance because of the bus routing and he thought we may have left.
It was an interesting evening in a lot of ways, one which ended with our going to his apartment so he could show us a drum pattern he'd been tapping out for us on the table and his knees. He loved the drums. It was way in the middle of nowhere -- nowhere for a person without a car and whose bus only came once an hour.
He welcomed us into his space. We didn't see the bedroom or kitchen, but the living room had only a wooden table, an orange chair with chrome legs and arms -- the kind you saw in a 1970s lobby -- a stool and a utility lamp hanging from the ceiling. The walls were surrounded with boxes and there were several drums. There wasn't one thing on the walls. Not a calendar, a clock, a postcard. Nothing.
And I felt profoundly guilty. And I wanted to "fix" things. And I learned a long time ago, during my Ele's Place training, we can't just fix things like that.
I talked with a number of trusted friends about this -- people who would be able to appreciate the situation because of their professional or personal background. And if there was consensus -- and in a way there was -- it was that one can guide, one can be supportive, one can be a friend. You may well be his angel. (Or he, yours.) But one can't simply rush in and hang the photographs from the basement on the walls.
Because maybe, just maybe, he's not like me. Maybe he likes the serenity of the plain wall. The lack of chaos. Some people do, you know. Maybe even you!
I look at my art room walls.
The inspiration board with layers of lovely art done by wonderful friends. Photos and postcards and bits of inspiration. Instructions for a project. A peg board with ribbons. The window sills with photos, a shadow box with an art doll, parts of the cat collection and a book made by a friend. Right now it's particularly bad, but even on a good day, it's a tad "busy." (That said, I love it, because I am surrounded by friends and art. But yes, busy.)
Abundance. We have different definitions. At the church I used to go to, they spoke of enough to spare and enough to share.
It's a good one.
I love it when I'm watching a cooking show and the host will make something so delicious you can almost taste it across the airwaves using only five ingredients, none of which are outrageously expensive. And don't say that never happens for you -- you do it all the time.
Maybe in the kitchen. Maybe in making the Halloween costume out of what you have at home. Maybe in a table centerpiece.
Maybe you experience abundance in giving -- and when knowing when to hold back to see if that's the right thing to do.
I'm still working on that one, the best ways to give.
But here's one I'd like to give to you.
During the month of November, now through Thanksgiving Day, I'll be having a drawing for Sarah Ban Branach's absolutely life changing book (for me, anyway), "Simple Abundance."
If you're familiar with it, I hope you'll enter to share it with another -- this is a copy bought long ago on "remainder" (why, I don't know) and it's in four-star condition. (My copy, on the other hand, has pencil scribblings in it!).
"Simple Abundance: A Day Book of Comfort and Joy" was written in 1995 -- in fact, one of the earlier chapters is "Is It Recession or Depression?" and refers to the economic climate of the times.
As with similar books, there are short bits for each day. I kept mine in a spot where reading short things was convenient. And every day, I read and thought about it.
Some of the chapters include an "assignment," others provide food for thought. It is rich in quotes ("Life itself is the proper binge," Julia Child) and has such topics as: "Discovering the Momentum of Creative Movement," "Order Within," "The Celebrating Table," "The Fear of Success," "Nightscapes," "Meditation for Bad Girls" and "The Loss of Control."
In fact, looking at it to do this post reminded me I should start it in January again with one of you!
Every comment from now until Thanksgiving Night, Midnight, will be an "entry" into the drawing. Please enter often -- if you don't know this book, you should. If you do, well, then you know.
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