I am surrounded by abundance, and it is causing me to lose my sanity.
Seriously, there is so much of stuff that have been accumulated over the years, that are stuck inside my house and yet remain unused. They sit there occupying so much space and collecting so much dust that staying inside the house has become an annoyance.
There are a lot of cupboards in my house. A lot. So there is a lot of storage space and lots of stuff to store inside this storage space. Every time, we clear the clutter, we also, somehow manage to accumulate just as much.
Only this year, I successfully managed to stick to my resolve of not purchasing more than three dresses during the entire time, only to see this resolve collapse right towards the end when I bought a bundle of t-shirts for a vacation. I managed to talk myself into agreeing with the idea that the four t-shirts were not only cheap, but were also small enough to be folded into tiny bundles. All talk and any sign of acceptance blew out of the window when my husband walked home with four expensive dresses, announcing that I had bought only three dresses the entire year, and we were going on a vacation after-all.
And here I am, back to base with a bundle of clothes screaming out for space while the existing bundle looks up pitifully waiting for me to wear it.
This situation reflects in the rest of my house as well. My friend once declared that there are so many things around the house that my family would always need a large space to live in. From then on, my annoyance over the quantity of stuff has been replaced with questions including my capability to adapt to the uncertainties of change. Will I be able to deal with a minimalist lifestyle if the situation warrants it? How long will I be able to maintain the stuff in the house? – my head had already begun to growl under the pressure of things that needed to be dusted and organized. There were too many articles that remain unused, and they were all calling out to me.
You see the problem with abundance. It has to do with management of abundance.
Um…this is not the kind of abundance I am talking about
Wait! I am not done with my problems with abundance just yet.
I have accumulated an abundance of learning right through my childhood during which I spent 70% of my time reading novels and comics, and then around 20% of my time thinking about these novels and comics, and the rest 10% on sleeping. I did not know it at that time, but with my current knowledge of how sleep works, I would have probably spent the 10% dreaming about what I read as well.
As a result of this childhood habit that I never managed to put a halt to, I have been accumulating information inside my head. The brain, as it is want to do, continuously processes information, and then does its best to get you to spit out his processed information in the form of knowledge. My head is an abundance of processed information.
While I have an abundance of knowledge, I do not have the abundance of time to get it out of my head. In short, my abundance is not only my boon, but also my curse.
Well, it is not so to me
Wait! I am not done with my abundance of learning. Yet. I have an abundance of learning, 70% of which, still remains inside my head. This number is roughly equal to the volume of ocean water on earth, something that is in abundance, something that causes rain, and yet, something that cannot be consumed by humans.
Ah, ha! Water, water, everywhere, and not a drop to drink
My coastal city is facing a drought situation. Well, that is how useful abundance is. Don’t get me wrong, but we all know that it rains differently in different places. In simple words, it rains in measures. It rains in time.
The abundance of un-useful water gets converted into measures of useful water. And measure is in direct contrast with abundance. The difference between ocean water and rain water is the difference between abundance and measure.
Think of abundance like a mother who, faced with the issue of distributing food to several of her children, is forced into measuring out the morsels. In the process, some of the children get more, some enough, some less and yet some others, nothing. Around three years ago, the city in which I live witnessed a flooding of epic proportions. The mother of abundance decided to feed us more than what we could bear to eat. This year, my city has not received a single morsel. Yet.
Whatever be the way – whether it is the abundance of flood, or the abundance of drought, the problem remains the same – the management of abundance.
That is how the solution of “just enough”
My family vacationed in Japan this year. Coming from a drought-hit city, I enjoyed the abundance of water in the country. The free-flowing water soothed my drought-weary wounds and I wished I could stay under the shower forever.
The other abundance that caught my sight in Japan, is the abundance of stuff. Almost every other building housed a shop that sold a lot of things. Ever since my home-city announced a ban on single-use plastics, we have been more mindful of how we buy what we buy. We either carry cloth bags from home or the stores provide paper bags. So, my first thought over the abundance of products in Japan was about how they manage the enormous plastic waste that they generate. Needless to say, the country is only recently coming to terms with the fact that it has to figure out ways to end its love affair with plastic.
Japan not only gains from its abundance but also fails because of it. As is the case with people like Mark Zuckerberg who have an abundance of wealth and power. Their problem is that can let go of neither. The bigger problem is that they swipe away their problem. Because abundance is an addiction. Likewise my problem with my learning. I just have to figure out what my measure is, and then shout STOP!!!
Are you saying that I should not buy the dresses that I want?
I am saying that you should only buy the dresses that you can manage. Like I should only buy the things that I can organize and dust on a regular basis. Of course, your measure and my measure is bound to be different. The answer does not lie in uniformity of purchase, as much as it lies in the rationality behind it.
So, how do we manage the temptation of abundance?
What are the values behind your quest for abundance? Are you seeking it for yourself – to make your life more meaningful, or are you looking to share the abundance you seek? etc
Understand your limitations. Do you seek abundance because you can, because you want, or because you need? Truth is, no one needs abundance. We just want it, and our wants, just like abundance, are limitless.
Can you manage abundance if it blesses you with its presence? In all probability it already has. You could be like me, having an abundance of stuff or an abundance of nothing. Either which way, the abundance is already there. Question is, can you sustain your abundance without delving into its madness?
Enough brings about magic. And the magic is called peace. From someone who is grappling to find an iota of peace among the surrounding of abundance, to someone who is trying to get into my position, please don’t. There is no magic, like the magic of enough. The magic lies in the feeling. Get into the act of saying “enough” to everything from that extra candy to love. You and I are well aware that the abundance of love is called obsession.
If you are blessed by abundance, share it. Trust me on this. You can also trust the Buddha on this. He shared his abundance of knowledge, did he not?! And the Christ shared his abundance of love. When the great ones chose not to retain their abundance, we need to see the wisdom in their ways.
Practice thinking with your body. We are inside one for a reason. And this reason is called time. Our lives are measured by time and our body is its containment. This idea gives enough rationality to live out our time with wisdom. Seek to chase your dreams instead of abundance, for abundance is like infinity. Not only can it not be caught, it will also end up running you in circles.
Psst…here is a little secret on the abundance you seek. It is not as conscious as much as it is sub-conscious. Which means that if you have sought the love of family as a child, and have it now, as an adult, then congratulations! the abundance that you sought has sought you out. Our biggest tryst with abundance comes from what we seek during childhood.
So don’t freak out your head seeking abundance. Just know your measure, and you will definitely lead an interesting life.
Here’s to freeing your mind with the wisdom of reality!