Half Full

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.




§ 6 Responses to Half Full

  • Jeannie says:

    Wow! If this is the teaser I can’t wait for the book to come out.

  • rhonda says:

    First, I have a six year old who would LOVE to check out your blackberry bushes! He never tasted a blackberry so delicious until about two weeks ago when they started to ripen and a farmstand up the road put them out to which he asked, “Please, Mama, please can we get blackberries?” and it has been love ever since. See, we moved to north central Vermont less than two months ago from Southampton, Long Island. We left some wonderful friends and a great community, but there was certainly an overabundance of overabundance. We did not want to raise our children, or ourselves for that matter, in a place where people had their second and third homes which are worth millions of dollars, yet are occuppied for one, maybe two months of the year. The overabundance never seems to be enough, the people never seem to be happy and our beautiful Mother Earth seems to pay the price most of all. I served lots and lots of these people in fine dining establishments and have been saddened and disgusted as I cleared mostly full plates from the tables. We fed each other and the cats, but so much of it wasted, thrown out, while so many have no food to put on the table for their children, themselves. So now here we are in Vermont, transitioning into a rural life, some see it as difficult for us suburbanites from Long Island, we are ready for the challenge. It may take us a little longer, but we are here to learn to provide for as much for ourselves as we can and to teach our children to be thankful for exactly what they have in this lifetime. The only fear I possess, not getting this message to our children.

  • Am enjoying having discovered your
    blog, Ben.

  • wandergroove says:

    A bit more south than your location, our VT blackberries also bend toward the ground under the weight of berries which are indeed larger than the last bit of my thumb. I so appreciate your musings. We too homeschool and are gladly unplugging from the system of fear and not enough. Sometimes it is so nice to hear/read of a family of kindred souls. Keep on writing!

  • inspiring words. I eagerly await the book!
    :) em

  • melissa845 says:

    Can’t wait to hear that the book is available!

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