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Part XIV, Abundance

By Remy Benoit

Look around you. Look up at the immensity of the daytime sky. Look up at the enormous expanse of star strewn wonder.

Look around you. Look up at the immensity of the daytime sky. Look up at the enormous expanse of star strewn wonder.

Watch the wavelets wash the shore in endless rhythm.

Notice the blades of grass surging their way to life between the concrete paved block of the sidewalk.

Life and abundance will have its way. It is all around us in the scent of spring breezes, in the sharp bite of winter wind. Life feeds the seeds we watch grow to fruition and burst forth with blossom and fruit.

Life is in the bird song, the duck's waddle, the male penguin guarding its young. Life weeps in our tears and celebrates in our laughter. Life aches with our pains and rejoices with our victories.

It swirls around us in an awesome dance, and yet, and yet, so often we fail to see it. Perhaps we have not yet found the clarity to see it; perhaps we do not bring the love to see it because we do not come to it with love inside for ourselves.

Why do so many of us claim lack?

What is it that we lack?

Perhaps we do not come to the abundance with openness and the ability to receive. Perhaps we do not come to the abundance with gratitude for what we already have.

Are you able to manage the basic necessities of life? Do you have comfortable clothing and shelter? Are your food needs met? Are you able to pay your bills each month?

If they are not, are you seeking the available assistance to meet them?

If they are met, how often do you offer thanksgiving for what you have?

If you sat down with a pencil and paper and began to list all the things in your home, room by room, wall by wall, shelf or table, etc., how long do you think it would take you to complete the inventory list? Just as an exercise you might want to just make such a list of the cabinets in your kitchen. How many people, in how many centuries, never dreamed of having even ten percent of what sits in your kitchen cabinets? Thinking and writing this way begins to change your perspective on your life and helps you to not only appreciate what you have, but often begin to utilize it in new ways.

Perhaps while you were doing the kitchen inventory you can upon a cookbook, leafed through it and found a new way to prepare your favorite foods.

If you substituted a garage inventory, perhaps you found the favorite hammer that you thought was long ago lost. Ah, now the loose railing can be fixed.

We become accustomed to what is around us and it starts to lose its visibility, and thus, its usage.

Doing this kind of inventory also alerts you to what you still have around that you know you no longer need and thus lets you pass it on to someone who has a need for it. It keeps the flow going around you, and also makes room for the new in your home, garage, office, etc.

There is also another thing you can do when you begin to look about and see what is truly around you. While you are doing this, "take" your characters with you from your writing. As you find articles, books, pieces of clothing that remind you of life events, talk with your character, explain what they meant to you and let your character react to them. You may find a dialogue developing that will give you fresh insight into not only your own life but also the message that you wish to convey in your writing. The peace, the joy, is not in the number of things on your list, be that number large or small, it is in their usefulness and application in your life, in how they help you generate who you are. The joy and peace are in the smiles that you give away to strangers you pass on the street; they are in shared bread fresh from an over; in comforting words, in shared experience. As you write down your list think about what experience has been shared over these dishes, glasses, rakes, and hammers.

You may perhaps also want to take a small box along with you as you sort through things. This box can be used to store up little things that have no particular function, but just attract you. This box of assorted things can become a story box for you for those moments when you need a writing pick me up.

Can you generate a story by giving voice to a cow shaped and decorate salt shaker? Ask it how it feels about sitting on your counter? Would it prefer to live in the house of a vegetarian? Take an imaginary walk with it and ask it how it feels about your back yard. This kind of exercise is not only fun and light-hearted, it can lead, again, to new perspectives and unleash ideas that your did not know you had. For instance, with the ceramic cow salt shaker, change its size through the course of your walk from that of the salt shaker slowly to a full sized cow. How does its vision of your backyard change as its size changes? The yard that seemed abundant in vegetation to a three inch cow might not seem abundant to a full sized one.

What other objects in your home or office might have stories to tell if you gave them voice?

Do you remember how big the first street you lived on looked to your young eyes? Have you gone back to that street as an adult? This is my experience of going back to see the street that seemed oh so large to me as a child.

Serena's grandmother once told her that if you are in a situation where you are unsure of yourself, "keep your mouth shut and no one will know how much you don't know."

Looking at her mouth in the mirror, Serena realized that aside from lipstick, toothpaste, dental reminders and mouth freshener ads just how little attention is given to the mouth.

"But, " Serena thought, " isn't so much of the life of the mouth like that. We put food in that isn't tasted over stress filled dining tables; we put out words unconsidered."

Taste is much like smell. Just a bit on the tongue and times' miles are crossed.

A Philadelphia soft pretzel, warm yet from the ovens, brings back a tall skinny kid whose shorts won't stay up without a belt or suspenders. No hips. Where did that problem go?

A maple lined street that didn't seem small then but very long and filled with surprises. Those trees were of great girth and freely shared their cool, green dappled shade giving relief from the humid wrap of summer.

Observing their seasonal changes provided markers for dreams and were the first encounters with nature's flow. In the fall their cast off brown, orange, red and golden dresses were piled by the curb and jumped in and rolled in with glee. The pungent aroma of their burning when all the scratchy seated cars had been moved off the street seeped into clothes and hair and soul and brings a sense of loss now that leaves are bagged and taken away or ground up for mulch. The gentle crackle is missed as a marker that the season is changing and the wonders of winter snows and school holidays coming fast.

Their spring buds brought Easter and were the harbingers of store bought, hard sugar decorated coconut cream eggs the size of a coffee mug. When their leaves reappeared a carefree summer was coming of legs up on handle bars in the back driveways that slopped down to each house on either side: and Italian water ices with cherry, or lime, or lemon sitting on the crenelated stone wall of the last house on the street that housed a Ma and Pa grocery store. That was where pennies and nickels went, metamorphosing into hard pretzel sticks, pink bubble gum loaded with sugar, and candy bars.

Serena could see all of them with fannies not yet too wide to sit between the stones on the wall: with sun that made the freckles stand out on the face of her cousin's friend, the one who always teased her and got rewarded with a thud from her umbrella; smelling of kielbasi, or locks, or Italian spaghetti sauce depending on which house they came from. All of them short and round, or long of leg and arms, all of them staring while slurping at the last house directly across the street.

The people who lived there seemed invisible. No one ever saw anyone come or go except a random deliveryman to a door that never opened quite wide enough to see who or what was inside. It was the Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew mystery house with all kinds of scary stories made up over it with mouths sticky with sugar, wet or dry. The house was special not only because of its Casper like inhabitants but because of all the houses facing each other on the block it was the only one that actually had a grass yard with a Philadelphia stone wall. None of the other houses had that! Just a tiny patch of grass in front that fell steeply down to the sidewalk rendering it useless as a play area and a concrete driveway in the back with a piece of grass only big enough to accommodate a small dog.

Just a sip of lemon ice, or cherry, or lime and those maple trees bring shade or yet another taste: a different taste chilled with fear from a day in the mid fifties as they swayed as if in the frenzy of a dervish's dance in Hurricane Hazel. Nothing should have been able to make them move so. An acrid taste of insight that even what seems to be so strong, so immovable has its own limits.

From those days clothespins are all tied up with the taste of hot-dogs. The man who lived behind, on the other side of the driveway, putting up all his clothespins on the line before the clothes. And everything always fit into their pre-ordained spaces. It was a scene of mathematical mystery to all the kids who he one day gathered up neatly like his wash and took to their first professional baseball game. It seemed so formal compared with the half balls and the mop or broom sticks used on the driveway as it was viewed while the yellow mustard of fatty hot dogs tweaked the insides of mouths stuffed overfill and stained shirts.

So many young days tied into the world of the mouth. On the diagonal from the old store lived an old lady who it seemed was attached to her front window, guarding her personal postage allotment of grass. Her mouth was an unsweetened lemonade mouth that never folded into any direction but down.

Scotch broth isn't just soup it is the taste of the noses of new born puppies and jelly bean sweetness is an aging uncle training a female beagle puppy with curled tail to 'go' quickly for a jelly bean treat. And rose petal tea brings back life and vitality to an old woman whose mouth always turned in a heart smile: she, with her clippers and scrubbed mayonnaise jars turned upside down, propagating always more and more roses in that finite space that for her had no boundaries.

Apple tasting now from the trees of New Jersey 'pick it yourself' orchards in the mid-October sun: apple tartness, sweetness, floating in the sun heated air and there, of a sudden, is Mrs. B's dining room from forty years ago filled with children in Halloween costumes slurping up her warmed, cinammoned cider. She was a working woman then, only seen going in the morning, coming back at dinner time but always available to the thirsty neighborhood young that one special night each year, before treats had to be checked for razors and drugs. Did any of them ever say Thank you? She was sure they did: they were trained to.

But somehow Serena felt Mrs. B. heard more the whispered thank you of young happy bellies.

— Pastiche

© 1997 Remy Benoit

Have you noticed where the secret here is? As a child, we see with a child's eyes. All is possible, there is no realm that the imagination cannot enter. Infinite possibilities and thus, infinite abundance. You may be a firefighter one moment, victorious over whatever variety of bad guy the next, a princess or a king; anyone and anywhere that you choose to let your imagination carry you.

Next time we will look at where our imagination has gone and go on a journey to recover it.


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This item is part of historian, author, editor, and educator Remy Benoit's ongoing weblog for Veterans, writers, students, and others who believe in learning from and making history; including thousands of articles and posts and the free writing seminar, Using History for Healing and Writing.

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