There’s a secret black hole in my house that sucks all the good pens and separated halves of sock pairs. Maybe there’s one in yours, too?
When we die and cross the threshold into our next incarnation, I think we’ll be handed back a pail of these things. The same way my favorite store in the East Village used to insist that we check our bags while shopping and then turn in our ticket on the way out to retrieve them.
Given all of this, I’ve been keeping an eye on my favorite black pen very thoughtfully and have been mindful to put it back in my desk drawer at the end of a day when I’m finished working to make sure it will be there when I reach for it the next day.
Isn’t it interesting how we make certain things precious and then create scarcity around them?
Jennifer Senior wrote a whole book on this topic as it pertains to parenting called All Joy And No Fun. The idea is that with each generation, our children are becoming more precious, and as we perceive them as more and more precious, we are more protective over them and more likely to make ourselves completely miserable by trying to executive produce amazing days for them on a regular basis, keep their little bubbles intact, and make them happy.
Happiness, Senior argues, is an impossible metric.
This morning, a funny thing happened. I opened a different drawer in my office, the one I don’t open very often. The one that has all the boring stuff like paper for my printer and pads of post it notes. Lo and behold, to my astonishment, there was a whole package of my favorite pens waiting there. I’d forgotten that I’d bought them.
The metaphor was screaming into my face asking to be written. How many of us are walking around in our perceived scarcity when there are drawers of abundance within ourselves we haven’t even opened yet?
The issue, friends, is not that we don’t have what we need. The issue is that we don’t realize that we have what we need. We are living out of one drawer, holding onto one precious object at a time thinking, “This is it!”
In Buddhism, there is a parable about looking at the night sky through a straw. When we learn how to drop the straw, the scarce perspective, we can see the whole majestic show.
What we know is not all there is to know.
Embracing this is the first step toward living in real abundance and a joy that runs deeper than superficial, fleeting happiness. A joy that is reliable and available to each of us as we adjust our thinking accordingly in order to receive it.