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The One Thing to Remember when Life Gets Tough

Think of a time you felt aware of your good fortune – or of being given a gift. I don’t mean aware, like “oh, someone just handed me this gift and so I’m aware of it.”

I mean the kind of awareness that pervades your whole being. As if you’re a sponge and you’re drinking up this warm, sweet water that permeates you every. which. way.

Get me?

Sometimes I like to poke fun at abundance thinking… as if all I have to do is picture success and it’ll happen – kind of like the character Harold Hill in The Music Man – you know, a con man – if a lovable one.

But this week’s topic, based off the divine name Ya-Majid, is all about divine super-abundance. It’s about both being blessed with a gift – AND – this full-body sense of awareness of that blessing.

What if we take a moment to drop into that feeling? I think of it as a feeling of awe or wonder – maybe when I see a newborn puppy or a baby… Or maybe the kind of wonder I’ve felt on a perfect summer night, looking up at the night sky and realizing the impossible vastness of the universe – and the equally impossible fact that I’m somehow a part of it. The soft grass on my skin, the honeysuckle smell in the air… your whole body is telling you that the world was made for you.

(Focusing on the feeling. The warm, sweet water that pleasantly soaks through your whole self.)

(coming back now)…. That’s nice, isn’t it?

What always makes me wonder, is why I forget that feeling. Of course I forget it when there’s a crisis -one of those life’s moments where your whole world shifts under your feet.

But even in the everyday… School, work, chores, just life happening. We forget the sweetness and the abundance. In fact, we’re encouraged to forget… if I am too satisfied, then I don’t need to buy the new barbeque grill, or the vacation package, or the Netflix subscription.

I’m supposed to want to work harder at a job I might not like so I can buy more things to fill a house I bought to impress people who really don’t care.

(ehem…)

Wait… that’s not abundant thinking, is it?

Whether it’s some catastrophe or whether it’s just the day to day humdrum numbness that hypnotizes us so that we sleepalk through years or entire decades…. we can forget to allow ourselves to notice –  the abundance that Ya Majid is talking about.

But there is redemption, my friend.

Any time we want it. We only have to wake up and ask for it.

Here’s a quattrain by Omar Khayyam, the Persian Poet:

“Come, fill the cup, and in the fire of spring

Your winter garment of repentance fling.

The bird of time has but a little way

To flutter – and the bird is on the wing.”

I remember a time when I was sleepwalking through life. I was driving 45 minutes each way to a job much like the one I just mentioned. Caught in rush hour traffic, I was tense and brittle-feeling, creeping forward through this traffic jam, I finally rounded a corner far enough to see the Cincinnati skyline open up in front of me. The sun was just coming up, and something magical happened. As I sat there with my knuckles white from clenching the steering wheel so hard with frustration, my breath caught in my throat. I was at first irritated that I’d forgotten my sunglasses and couldn’t see through the glare on the windshield.

Then something took over and before I knew it, I had pulled onto the shoulder, then off onto the grass beside it. I turned the car off completely and got out. The sun was illuminating the whole valley. The Ohio river wandered like a ribbon under the five bridges connecting Cincinnati with Kentucky. I felt like I could see everything in incredible detail – from horizon to horizon.

The anger melted away and I started to cry. I was sitting on the hood of my car, tears streaming down my face, and a feeling of pure unadulterated joy and gratitude coursing through me.

Where is your own joy?

Look around you and notice all the abundance in your life? Can’t see it? Look harder. I promise you it’s there.

If you’re going through a tough time, I’m with you. Know that you are not alone. Your suffering matters, and is so real, and completely valid.

And.

Don’t waste the suffering. One of the things suffering does is expand us – like the hand of a potter stretches the wet clay on the wheel and turns it into a container. That stretching is painful.

And it’s what increases our capacity for the other. The sunrises, and the babies, and the full-body hunger of new love, and the sweetness of holding hands after 50 years together. And of ice cream, and music, and on, and on, and on.

My friend, be a sponge. Wring out whatever is in there, and allow yourself to experience the abundance flooding back in. Be swept away, if only for a moment.

This life is many things. And one of them is pure sweetness.

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