There is Enough.


My mother was the one, when I was a child, who gave me the paradigm shift of abundance.  Instead of thinking of the world as a place of scarcity, think of it as one of abundance.  Instead of looking at all the things I’m missing or haven’t gotten, look at all the things I have.

There is enough.  I remember a time when I made $16,000 a year.  I had my own one bedroom apartment, paid my bills and bought food.  I even got haircuts, saw movies and took the bus home to visit my parents.  And I was content.  I was doing my Masters degree and being a TA to make that amount of money – spending at least 70 hours a week doing work in the lab, marking, preparing my teaching materials and lectures.  I was going through old bank statements and seeing the number of months I scraped by with a couple of dollars in my account, but I lived.  That was ten years ago.  And now I have to budget for a salary five times that amount?

There is enough.

There is another job.  There is another house.  There is food to eat and water to drink and air to breathe.  There are clothes to wear.  There are books to read.  There are thoughts to think and share.  There are internet sites to surf.

There are enough people in the world to be interested in whatever you wish to do that you will be able to do it and have someone pay you to do it.

Say you have 0.5% market penetration in Canada every year.  The Canadian population is estimated to have reached 34.8 million people in 2012.  That is 174 400 people who like your idea.  If they all pay $10 a year for your idea, you will make $1 744 000 every year until they stop paying you $10 for your idea.  But since you came up with that idea, you probably have other ideas too, so it’s not your only shot.  Or if it is, you keep maintaining that idea so that other people also want to pay you $10 a year for your idea.  This simplistic example ignores start up costs, creation costs, shipping and whatnot, but you get the picture.

There is enough.

Why live in a fearful world of scarcity and scrabbling?  Of holding on to mean scraps and bitter lives because of the fear of losing even that?  How is an existence soaked in bile and negativity better for you as a person than muscling through a change and finding something fulfilling?  A simple paradigm shift and you could live in a world where there is so much room for you and your ideas.  There is so much out there.  There is abundance.

There is enough.

Mums from Regent's Park - happy little buttons, and a lot of them.

Mums from Regent’s Park – happy little buttons, and a lot of them.  J.Gibson 2013

Yoga, minimalism and “stuff”

One of the lessons my yoga teacher has tried to convey is non-attachment, as I’ve mentioned previously.  He tried to explain it in this way – non-attachment doesn’t mean that you can’t have nice things.  You can have the beautiful house, the expensive furniture, the fancy car, etc., etc.  But don’t be attached to them.  Be able to turn your back on your house, filled with all your beautiful things, and toss a match at it to let it burn down.  Don’t identify yourself in all your things, all your possessions.

Minimalism, as I understand it, also takes this tack – don’t identify yourself in all your possessions.  They are not you.  But it takes it a step further.  It says “Don’t accumulate things.  That way, your time and money is more abundant and isn’t tied up in stuff that you would have to burn down to be free of.”

I started pondering this during my dog walk this morning (as I often do, using my walking time as pondering time).  I wasn’t out terribly early, although definitely earlier than most folks in my neighbourhood on a long weekend.  I walked my normal route, and my pup was very happy at the cooler temperature and the low pollen levels which led her to feel much better.  About a quarter of the way through our walk, I looked over to see a person with their head on a stuffed-full backpack, sleeping on a gentle downward slope beside a tree.

My first thought was, “Huh…”  And my second thought was, “Do I feel less safe?”  And my third thought was, “Huh.  No, I don’t.  And clearly they feel safe enough in my neighbourhood to sleep outside, under a tree, unprotected.”

I wondered if they were homeless.  And then, given the backpack, I wondered if this was a person actually backpacking somewhere, on an adventure, travelling.  I thought about trying to quietly bring them a sandwich of some sort for breakfast and maybe sacrificing an extra travel mug to give them coffee.  But I doubted they would still be there by the time I returned, and there was a part of me that didn’t want to open myself up to a potential whatever – loony, stalker, person that doesn’t understand that generosity doesn’t automatically mean that you’re adopted as a dependent.  But I was slightly romanticising the person and giving them the benefit of the doubt – making them a doughty wanderer, operating outside of societal norms.

How does this relate?  Clearly, this person can’t be attached to their stuff, because they are living off of whatever is in their backpack.  Also, I surmise that living that sort of lifestyle would necessitate that you not be particularly attached to your things because you may, in order to be safe as a person, need to walk away and leave them behind.  But in this sort of a world, I’m sure it’s relatively easy to reacquire “necessities”, if you just look into what others are throwing away.

So, who is this person?  They are their experiences, not their things.  They are how they interact with the world, not what they have accumulated.  They are their survival skills, not the facade they put on.  One could argue that they are potentially the more honest human experience than the one you find in front of a 50″ TV in your house in the suburbs.

Not that the point of minimalism is to live with only 5 things in your life.  And not that the point of non-attachment is to burn everything to the ground.  The point of both of these things is that the person is more in their Self, and has an abundance of their Self – their time, their resources, their skills, their joy.  Yoga is about connecting the body – the physical experience of the world – with the mind and the “spirit”.  Instead of just automatically living physically, it is about living mindfully and considering whether certain courses of action will actually bring you joy – bring you real satisfaction.  Real satisfaction ties in with the “spirit” aspect – not the ego-stroking satisfaction of being envied, but the real satisfaction that makes *you* more as a person.

It’s a process, and a difficult one in a world where we are told to always measure ourselves by what we’ve been able to achieve – degrees, bank accounts, houses, cars, a family.  But are those really the measurements that mean something to our souls?  What about experiences?  What about the ability to sit, be still, be peaceful and enjoy the sounds of the world around us?

What about the utter trust of a place that you are able to lay your head down on a pack in a park and sleep?