A dear friend commented on my last blog using the words "life of abundance," reminding me of a story I had heard years ago. Here it goes: A wealthy gentleman was walking on the beach one day when a humble fisherman caught his attention. With every line throw, the fisherman would catch not one but multiple fish. It never failed. In awe at the unusual talent he was witnessing, the gentleman approached the fisherman and told him, "You are really talented, you know that? You should start a business." The fisherman looked at the gentleman and calmly replied, "I should? And then what?" "Well, then your business will grow and prosper." "It would? And then what?" said again the fisherman, in the same calm voice."Then you can hire more employees." "And then what?" repeated the fisherman. "Then you can move into huge headquarters." "And then what?" came again the perpetual question. "Then you can ship your goods all over the world." "And then what?" "Then you become really rich and live in abundance." "And then what?" By then, the gentleman was starting to get really irked. Was he listening to a broken record or a parrot? How could the guy not see where he was going with this! How could he not get it! "Then you can spend your days here at the beach enjoying yourself!" The fisherman kept silent for a minute then looked at the gentleman and, with a smile and the same calm voice, said: "But Sir, I am already doing that now..."
Indeed, abundance means very different things to different people. I remembered a book I once had, entitled "Simple Abundance" by Sarah Ban Breathnach. A friend of mine had given it to me before she permanently returned home to Greece from the US some twenty years ago. I searched for it on my bookshelf and here it was. In it were three definitions:
"simple, adj. 1: without embellishment; 2: clarity of form and thought; 3: fundamental
abundance, n. 1: an ample quantity, profusion; 2: wealth; 3: plentifulness
simple abundance, ... an inner journey; ... a tapestry of contentment"
Simple abundance... I often reflect on those words in these days of excesses and I find myself getting to the same perpetual answer, just like the fisherman in the story above: "And then what?" And then I realize, again, that it is not a life of abundance that I personally seek, rather a life of simple abundance, one that enables me, as Ban Breathnach writes, "to encounter everyday epiphanies, find the Sacred in the Ordinary, the Mystical in the mundane, fully enter into the sacrament of the present moment," one that teaches me "how to spin straw into gold."
That's because, simple times and simple pleasures are and always have been... my kind of gold.