Monday, January 11, 2010

Repeating the Mantra

A few days ago, I wrote, "Now there's a mantra worth repeating as often as possible: 'I already have everything I need!'"

But something happened today to remind me that I haven't truly adopted that mantra yet.

It's a simple thing: a small dome of ice had formed over the fountain nozzle on our pond. It looked like the dome on an old-fashioned percolator, reminding me instantly of the old Maxwell House coffee commercials.

I grabbed my camera to take a picture of the ice with the water flowing underneath it. However, a still photo didn't do it justice. "I wish I had a video camera!" I thought, as I stared down at my knob- and button-festooned camera.

I invested in a decent digital camera a few years ago. I couldn't afford a fancy SLR, so I bought a good "pro-sumer" model. It has an attached lens with a nice zoom, and includes most of the bells and whistles that the nicer cameras have, including white point balance. I've been able to take some very nice photos with this camera.

As I looked at the "mode" knob, I noticed an icon that looks like a movie camera. I selected it. Lo and behold: in my viewfinder, I saw a "Start" button and a timer that let me know I could shoot almost 30 minutes of video with the memory card I had installed.

Amazing! I have owned this camera for 3 years, and have been so focused on taking still images, I never bothered to find out if my camera had video capabilities! I shot a short video of the water percolating under the ice and posted it on facebook. It was easy!

How many times have I wished I could have captured a moment on video, thinking that someday I would get a video camera? Granted, my still camera doesn't offer all the features of a full-fledged video camera, but it does a pretty good job, and would have worked fine for many of my needs.

So once again, "I already have everything I need!"

This incident started me thinking about the mindset of scarcity, how ingrained it is in my skull, about how much I want to un-ingrain it!

My guess is that my behavior is the product of modern marketing combined with being parented by people who grew up during the Great Depression. (The most taboo subject in our house was not, sex, not politics, not religion - it was money!) Even during some of my self-employed dad's most prosperous years, my mom would have a full-blown panic attack if the cash flow suffered a short-term blip.

My mom's bi-polar approach to all things fiscal helped mold me into an overgrown boy scout. I am prepared!

Worried that I won't have everything I need in case of emergency, my car is stocked with maps, water, jumper cables, tie-downs, a towel, a space rescue blanket, pens, a flashlight, and who knows what else?

When I had an office, my briefcase was stocked with notebooks, pens, reading glasses, emergency flashlight, a little zippered pouch with mini first aid kit, brass whistle (in case I get lost downtown, I guess), aspirin, wet naps. I think I even carried a snake bite kit for a 5-year stretch!

No matter how well I stocked my larder, whenever that impulse that said "I need this!" shot through my synapses, I immediately assumed that I lacked whatever I needed. If I was at work, I assumed what I needed was at home, and vice versa. Worse, I often went directly to the store and bought what I needed (without first looking to see if I already had what I needed).

This practice has lead to a substantial overstocking of my environment. (Please remind me not to buy any more kitchen sponges. I have over a dozen of them under the sink because every time I go to the store, I convince myself I'm out of them.)

The challenge is: I'm not sure how adopt the concept of abundance so that it sinks into my marrow. Do I get obsessive about cataloging all my possessions in a database so when the urge to go get something hits me, I can perform a Boolean search to determine if I already have what I need? Nah, that sounds too time-consuming and too focused on material "stuff".

Do I need to meditate on abundance every day? Do I need to chant "I already have everything I need" 100 times a day? (Thinking back to the 1970s, I wonder if that's the translation for 'Nam myoho renge kyoh'?) I'm not sure how to best approach this. As always, suggestions are welcome.

I want to shed this illusion of scarcity I've carried with me all these years. I want to automatically assume that whatever I need in any moment is most probably right here, easily within my reach. When I need something, I want shopping to be the method of last resort (however, I will make a few exceptions for impulses like hunger).

So how do I accomplish this change of mindset? Not by going to to find a self-help book on the subject (free super saver shipping or no!).

I'm guessing the answer is right here, within my reach. I just need to look around a little.

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