Probably we’ve all heard the teaching stories – the ones that make us all nod as if we know something, the ones that make us mutter aphorisms and wisdom-words at each other about the consequences of greed and getting more and more.
The stories are usually about some guy sitting all alone in a big old mansion on a hill somewhere. He has everything and yet he feels like he has nothing.
(Usually the tale is about a guy, but, really, we could easily substitute a gal in there instead these days.)
Here’s a thought: Maybe it wasn’t greed that led that lonely one down the road to Empty. Maybe he or she just didn’t recognize when they had gotten to “Enough” and just kept on going.
One day I happened to overhear a good friend of mine – one of the most generous and selflessly giving people I know – beating up on herself unmercifully.
She was spazzing about how she had fallen down off her (very high) standards-of-conduct bar because she had not stopped to listen (yet again) to a high-maintenance friend’s continuing saga about how everybody was picking on her and how not-right everything in her life was.
As a Perfectionist in remission, I am here to tell you that wabi-sabi — a Japanese way of seeing the world — works as an antidote to the never-good-enough, shiny-new-thing madness induced by the classical hyper-focus on perfection and the kind of seamless orderliness that arises from the mathematical, mechanical precision that evolved in the super-industrialized Occidental West where more is always better.
I grew up in a pineapple plantation camp on Molokai. Many of my neighbors were Issei, first-generation immigrants from Japan, who brought it with them from their homeland. I was marinated in wabi-sabi.
I’ve been beating my head on the wall I’ve made using the flood of abundance-mindset and positive-thinking books – past and present – that populate my shelves as well as articles and posts and audio tapes and video thingummies and podcasts that lurk in the spaces my computer can reach.
It all sounds so good. It’s all warm and fuzzy and smiley-face cool.
It’s also cotton-candy unsatisfactory. I’ve got a really bad sugar-high going and the crash is imminent, looming, and certain. …
Another IPS (Inner Peace Symptom): a disinclination to encourage catastrophic thinking and worrying. [Worst-case scenarios rarely happen. Allowing yourself to get caught up in mind-loops about them just makes you dizzy and paralyzes you.]…
I was listening to a soon-to-be ex-tenant of mine ranting on about how the past two years of her life spent on a little island in the Pacific that the P.C. (Politically Correct) crowd touted as the dream place to live had been most unsatisfactory.
Her body held rigidly erect as she stood flat-footed on the ground, she had thrown down her bandana and was giving up. “Going home,” she said. “I’m going home.”
And then there was a truly heartfelt cry. “Where’s the ah-low-haw?” she blared. …
Another IPS (Inner Peace Symptom): an understanding that generosity is not a down-payment on love. [Generosity is spill-over when you’re feeling full.]
I am reading a book, LOVE LET GO: Radical Generosity for the Real World, by Laura Sumner Truax and Amalya Campbell. It is a story about an amazing church congregation in Chicago, the LaSalle Street Church, who received a totally unexpected windfall: a check for $1,530,116.78. …
Gratitude is a choice, but why would you choose it?
In recent years there have been systematic scientific studies of gratitude and its positive effects. These studies show that grateful people are happier, more open and sociable, less depressed and neurotic and express higher levels of satisfaction with their lives and relationships. …
It has been said that fear is a sign that something is important to you.
FEAR AS A SIGNPOST
Ted Gonder, director of MoneyThink, a Chicago-based non-profit that teaches financial skills and entrepreneurial thinking to urban high school students, assures us, “If we think of fear as an accomplice rather than an enemy, then we can be free to lean into it, and pursue our dreams, ideas and projects freely.” …