As the holidays and 2024 approach, I declared the start of my personal new year on October 28th. The day after the one-year anniversary of my mother’s death, in a year of substantial loss—in addition to my mother there was the loss of my beloved 17-year-old cat, the loss of my 28-year marriage, the loss of my home and financial security and the (thankfully temporary) loss of my health. All of which I’ve written about here during the course of these last months.
I want to look forward. And, I’m struggling to feel like I’m enough, that my life is enough and, to put it bluntly, that I have enough resources. What does enough even mean? And how about this business of abundance? Abundance is one of the words of the moment. I feel inundated by invitations to reframe my thinking, to have an abundance mentality. Most days now, I fail to have an abundance mentality. Enough feels like a stretch goal.
Recently, I’ve been listening to Beautiful Chorus chants when I meditate. One of my current favourites is I Am Enough, which I often follow with their chant Abundance. After all, I’m not against abundance. I would like to have an abundance mentality. I just can’t seem to achieve it. I notice the chants feel different. My body yearns toward enough, as if my cells know that I’m enough and want me to know that I’m enough. And my body often resists the abundance chant, as if my cells don’t believe that abundance is possible, or that the whole notion of abundance is just a quick fix fad or worse abundance is greedy.
Or, are enough and abundance actually the same thing? Maybe if I could truly feel like I am enough, then I would have achieved that elusive abundance mentality. Are they both just different ways of expressing a feeling of wholeness? This is a philosophical cycle that could end up with me dancing on the head of a pin with the angels. My mother used to say that when my father would come back from synagogue with a story of an extended debate about, say, whether using a light switch was allowed on the sabbath. She’d say, “Now it’s just angels dancing on the head of a pin.” And, as I wrote this, I wondered, where did her saying come from, only to learn that it refers to tedious religious controversies from the middle ages.1
Enough with the angels. Let me get concrete.
I’ve faced some health challenges lately. So, I’m even more acutely sensitive to my level of energy when I run, or really do any physical activity. Over the many months of slower and slower runs, as my energy depleted, I had re-calibrated my expectations. Just getting out was enough. At first, as the medication returned me to the energy level that I was accustomed to in the past, every drop of extra ease and speed in my body felt like abundance. Now, only a few weeks later, as I settle back into the new-old normal, I notice that feeling of abundance recalibrating back to enough. In other words, I see my mindset shift. As if abundance is an unstable state and enough is the stable state. Abundance is an overreach. I couldn’t possibly merit abundance and anyway it’s a fickle, fair-weather friend. I’m scared that if I relate to my energy as abundant (versus enough), then it will be taken away.
To which the universe offered me this: Feeling frisky on a recent run, I picked up my pace, only to ping my hamstring. Really? The universe can’t let me have a quick run? I need to be put in my place that fast? As if proving my point about the unreliability of abundance.
And then I noticed that right behind the frustration was another feeling. Oh the joy, to be running fast enough to ping my hamstring. There was a part of me reveling in the privilege of the ping. And I had a glimpse of the abundance mentality. Being alive and running strong is enough and abundant. The universe invited me to let the feeling fill me up. And then reminded me not to get attached.
Maybe that’s the difference between the two—I am enough, even if I don’t know it all the time. Everyone is enough. As they are. Right now. We can’t be attached to enough. We are. It is. Whereas abundance happens in the moments we notice that we are enough or that what life has delivered to us is enough. Noticing that causes our cup to run over. To know I am enough, or that what is is enough, is abundant. And it’s hard to feel so fulfilled and not get attached and want that feeling of enough-ness to last. That’s the slipperiness of abundance.
Or not. I may still be dancing with the angels.
- I accept a 25% pay cut to continue doing work I love, that feels meaningful, because the company is in a tight spot until it finds more investors and/or earns more profits.
- I get the news that my kidneys are functioning normally, after months of alarming blood tests.
- I arrive at the Citibike stand, needing an e-assist bike, because the ride home is long and I’ve already danced for 2 hours. There are plenty of e-bikes docked at the stand, but all are red lighted and unavailable, except one, which also has enough charge for the distance I need to go. I cruise home in the autumn sunshine.
Enough or abundance?