I committed to reflect on abundance as part of the mindset/skillset of C21L, and this has become a kind of log of it.
I am choosing to offer some of it to you now, only partially edited, in the spirit of being bold and open. Hope it makes some sense. This isn’t the end of it; I hope to give you regular glimpses of this and other practices that seem to be suggestive of C21L in life and work.
I am reminded of what the Aussie author of Raising Boys, Steve Biddulph, said about work-life balance: “It’s misleading to talk about work-family balance, as if that’s all there is. We have four essential aspects to our being – work, family, community and spirit. Neglect any of these and you will fall over in the slightest breeze.” Steve Biddulph – Stories of Manhood, p14.
It is really impressive, this abundance! It does seem that we move towards the questions we ask, because the more I notice it, the more it happens, the more I notice it. Does this subjective causality (if it is such?) undermine the power of this phenomenon? I suspect not, but I also suspect that part of me, fully entrenched in the modernist paradigm, might never accept this.
A quick list of things I’ve noticed in the last few days:
- There seems to be more time to do things. I get to places earlier. I have space to dream and think more.
- I realise I have much more time than I realised to get places
- I am looking for the opportunity rather than the gap with business: choosing to say no to many things and new things are opening up all the time
- When I notice how much food there is around I eat less – I notice more pauses – before answering, before asking
- I drive more slowly
- I feel more like I am living not doing my life
I notice the connections between things. E.g. is it just a coincidence, synchronicity, or the nature of the world talking to me in many voices that suggests a client, an animal charity, going through some significant change, is just a passing scant relationship with our own pet cat who didn’t come home last night? The cat we acquired as a result of working with this very pet charity? Is this just a ridiculous coincidence, or a significant resonance, or both? In abundance terms, it is just what my friend Johan used to call ‘information’ – neither to be scorned nor grabbed wholeheartedly, but to be noticed, as another of the (abundant) examples of the way in which the world seems to pattern and coalesce around you. This may sound loony, but it is just so. Ignore such information at your peril. We are surrounded by it. Read David Abram’s the ‘Spell of the Sensuous’. Or any Gregory Bateson. So what do we DO about it? Notice, notice and notice again. Immerse ourselves in patterns. Act with some sensitivity to these patterns, rather than (as we so often do) just sawing them all in half.
- More noticing: I was swimming in a crowded swimming pool this morning, and the idea of abundance came into my head again, I mulled on it for while and noticed how much space there really was between all these swimmers. And then, as if all of a sudden, the pool was empty I just feel so much more relaxed. Even my lost cat seems to be at home somewhere. The Forest knows where she is.
- A senior manager I am coaching, who seems to be very sensitive. They have asked for feedback. It seems the world is gearing up to tell them what they already know (deep down) they need to hear, yet they may react like the small, vulnerable child they sometimes defend against being. They are surrounded by abundant evidence to suggest they need to shift a little. What was it T.S. Eliot said about people only being able to stand so much truth? It strikes me in these so-called straitened times that it isn’t a lack of resources we are surrounded by – it is too many. We have so much choice. We may not like the particular flavour of abundance – but that is just something we have to be grown up about.
My sense of abundance slips when the world seems to crowd in. It’s the little things. Domestic niggles: children off sick from school, so having to sort out childcare cover. Challenging decisions to be made about their schooling; big choices that we make quickly and based on not enough data. Car problems, central heating problems. Again, what is interesting is it is just MORE stuff to sort – so it is still abundance in a way. Each thing is a type of grab – a motion from the world that pulls us out of shape a little, and the elastic, once stretched, can take that little bit longer to return to centre. Having said that, as I reflect looking back on all these niggles, it is just another stage of letting go. For an example, return to the cat – or the cat’s return I should say. Let’s begin at the beginning: we have a new cat, a rescued stray, called Mitzy. Part of the hassle-some time we’ve been having was because she disappeared last Thursday night, as I mentioned earlier. We let her out into the garden, as we have recently started to go, loosening the kitten strings, as it were. Except this time, she didn’t come back after a brief trot to the back of the garden. ‘Oh well,’ we said practising zen, ‘she’ll come back in soon, I’m sure’.
The next morning our meditative calm started to wobble when it was clear she was still missing. During the day we started to really fret. An abundance of texts:
‘Is cat back yet?’
I contemplated the narrative of sudden, unexplained disappearance to my grief-stricken children. It was like a fluffy version of ‘The Child in Time’. On Friday evening we have a regular Jewish Sabbath family ritual, which involves lighting candles, breaking bread, drinking wine (grape squash for them, gin and tonic/whisky for us). Sometimes we even sing together. It isn’t all Brady Bunch round here, but we have our moments. Anyway, as we paid tribute to the recently departed, much mourned Davy Jones, with a top-of-our voices rendition of ‘I’m a Believer’, the furry wanderer plonked her way through the cat flap. Almost exactly in time to ‘Then I saw her face…!!”. Now we know what will bring her home. That’s abundance for you. You can never have enough of The Monkeys. Ask a cat.
How does this relate to C21L? Well maybe it does, maybe it doesn’t. I don’t want to make any glib sermon-like links. It just felt good to have the cat back, and to keep the faith. Maybe that is the link with abundance. Keep believing.