Lessons in abundance
Two lessons following closely on the heels of each other have taken Suma Varughese further down the road leading to abundance
Case 1: Abundance is really best expressed not in big flashy gestures but in tiny things. After many years, I had the occasion to spend a night at my sister Sheela’s house. Next morning, I offered to put out the washed clothes for drying. And I was amazed to see on either side of the window a deep bowl filled to the brim with colourful clothes clips. “Don’t your clips ever break or fall down?” I asked her. “Yes, they do,” said Sheela. “And we fill it up again.”
I thought of my own clothesline. I would buy a dozen clothes clips at a time. They would hang on the clothesline day in and day out. Some would slip and fall from my hand, and a few would crack with old age. They would get scarcer and scarcer, and my maid and I would contrive all sorts of strategies to dry the clothes with the available clips until I would finally get around to buying another dozen. Here, on the other hand, was dazzling abundance. No matter how many clothes you would put out to dry, you could never fear running out of clothes clips.
As one recovering from the scarcity mindset and only just discovering the joy of abundance, I am inspired. I just went and bought two dozen clothes clips.
Case 2: A few days back, a friend called, and with a tinge of embarrassment, confessed to having bought a high-end car. Now this friend is one of the most productive and enterprising persons I know. She has virtually single-handedly turned around her family-owned concern and raised productivity and sales several times over, even during the lockdown years. If anyone deserved to reward themself it was she, and furthermore, her income comfortably accommodated the expense. I applauded her for having consciously overcome the instinct to stay within one’s habitual patterns of expenditure and buying something that was aligned to her present financial reality.
Then I thought back on all the labels associated with that particular car, how one would be viewed by others, the envy it would raise in them, and I knew that even with all the money in the world, it would have been hard for me to break past the labels and see the car for what it was—one of the best cars in the world. The reasons are many. To begin with, I have a naturally spartan disposition. I don’t own any kind of a vehicle—not even a tricycle! All these years, I have availed of Mumbai’s excellent (if crowded) public transport and preferred to travel by bus, train, and autos. With advancing age and a slight fillip in my finances, I have moved to Ola and Uber, but I remain firmly set against buying a vehicle because it is one of my few contributions to the environment. Moreover, I am very invested in my identity as a thrifty austere spender. I am proud of it! Many sages have told me that I am a sanyasi at heart, and I have nodded delightedly at the revelation. Additionally I am afraid of spending vast sums of money. I instinctively draw back even when it comes to buying the high-end phone that my work as a WhatsApp facilitator demands from me, because something in me is appalled at having to spend so much money on something.
Is this scarcity consciousness? The fear that I will run out of money? Or is it poor self-worth that makes me feel I don’t deserve the best? Or is it my old puritanism shrieking in protest at the thought of so much expenditure? Whatever the case, I know that my abundance journey will not be complete until I reach a stage where I will not spend even one paisa unnecessarily but will spend lakhs when reason tells me to do so.
Suma Varughese is a thinker, writer, and former Editor-in-Chief of Life Positive. She also holds writer’s workshops. Write to her at email@example.com.
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