August 9, 2012 § 6 Comments
This morning after chores I set out for the most prolific of the half-dozen or so ridiculously prolific wild blackberry stashes that surround our home. Penny and I have a shared affliction which will not allow us to vacate a berry patch until all vessels are full, so I carried only a single one-gallon bucket: I couldn’t spend the whole freakin’ day harvesting fruit. It was cloudy, and it’s been so damn dry that even the promise of rain felt refreshing. We’ve had maybe two inches of rain in the past five weeks, enough to keep things green, but only just.
The berries were absurdly abundant. Each cane was bent under the weight of ripe fruit, some the size of my thumb from the knuckle up. And I have pretty big thumbs. I picked the first two quarts in maybe 20 minutes, at which point rain began to fall, not hard, but steady. It ran down my face and soaked my shirt and stung the innumerable bramble scratches that criss-crossed my bare arms. I was cold, but to be wetly cold in the rain has been such a novelty this summer that I kept pickin’. Besides, my container wasn’t full.
But soon it was, and I turned to leave. Before I did, though, I surveyed the patch and realized that, by rough estimation, I’d picked perhaps 1% of the available ripe berries, which totaled maybe a third of all the berries. There were so many still to ripen. So much fruit, so much food, so much abundance, and all for nothing more than the asking (well, that, and pair of sliced-up forearms).
I am just finishing my third book which, roughly speaking, is about money, a friend and his relationship to money, and my relationship to money. But even this is a fairly superficial description, because I found that when I started exploring this subject and these relationships, I uncovered underlying themes of abundance, scarcity, community, interdependence and, perhaps most profoundly, fear. I suppose I could explain what I mean by all of this, but then you wouldn’t have to read my book. And I really would like it if you’d read my book.
Still, I don’t think I’d be revealing too much to say that working on the book and spending time with my friend (who lives quite well on about $6000 annually, and is perhaps the most contented person I’ve ever known) has dramatically altered my perspective on abundance. I now view the world as being enormously, almost impossibly abundant; it is only our contrived fears and collective reaction to those fears that creates the perception of scarcity. The tragic irony, of course, is that our perception of scarcity is what drives the reality of scarcity for some, in a world where the essentials of day-in, day-out survival have been monetized and commoditized.
To view the world as abundant in an era of massive inequality and resource gluttony demands a shift of perception that is nothing short of life-altering. At least, it has been for me, and the fantastic truth is that the more I believe in it, the more I experience it. I doubt this is quantifiably true; I don’t think that simply by putting out some sort of “vibe,” I’m attracting more abundance to me, although what the hell… maybe it’s true. In any case, I’m not preaching the prosperity gospel, here. Or if I am, it’s a sort of prosperity that can only result from letting go of contemporary assumptions regarding the accumulation of so-called “wealth.” To live a life that is subservient to these expectations is to live a life that is largely rooted in fear. It is a fear that is entirely convenient to the corporatized hand that feeds, because the more scared we are, the more we feel compelled to abate our fear with the accumulation of money and stuff. And the more we view the world – and each other – as being ungenerous.
If this is your view, come on over: I’ve got a certain blackberry patch to show you.