The Three Lacks

“When you arise in the morning, think of what a precious privilege it is to be alive – to breathe, to think, to enjoy, to love.” Marcus Aurelius

Thursday morning. I wake up to the alarm, knowing I set it with the intent of one snooze cycle only. But I am so sleepy. Each time it sounds I can only hit snooze again. When I finally decide I am awake, I check my FitBit, which tells me that of the six hours I was “asleep” I spent roughly the exact same amount of time awake as in deep sleep: 51 minutes.

In the kitchen, as I wait for the coffee to brew, I am tempted to log in to my bank accounts. I don’t need to as I’ve spent plenty of time there in the last twenty-four hours. I have a pretty exact idea of where every penny is allocated. I have the spending of an unplanned-for small fortune on my vehicle yesterday to thank for this crystal-clear knowledge.

I think about the day ahead. So many things to do, not nearly enough time. I have this image in my head: like Jacob Marley’s ghost, I carry a chain of heavy links-each one an undone thing I ought to have already attended to. An unreturned phone call, an incomplete task, a disappointed colleague or friend.

I sit at my kitchen table, sipping the coffee that finally finished brewing. At the start of this new day, I feel tired, broke, discouraged.

It starts to rain.

I try very hard to focus on abundance, but I cannot get the three lacks out of my mind: I lack resolve; I lack funds; I lack time. They are the three lacks I always seem to battle.  Maybe everyone does? Brene Brown says, “For me, the opposite of scarcity is not abundance. It’s enough. I’m enough.” But even lowering the bar to enough, I fall short many days.

I fall short today.

It isn’t even 8:00 a.m. and I have decided that the day is a bust. Already, my day is defined by what is lacking rather than by what is present.

I get dressed and drive to work – yelling at the other drivers for imagined transgressions.  (It only helps a little.)  Once there, before I can take the three lacks out on everyone else, sucking the abundance from their days, a colleague shares a poem that seems selected with my martyrdom of scarcity in mind:

Everything Is Waiting for You

Your great mistake is to act the drama

as if you are alone. As if life

were a progressive and cunning crime

with no witness to the tiny hidden

transgressions. To feel abandoned is to deny

the intimacy of your surroundings. Surely,

even you, at times, have felt the grand array;

the swelling presence, and the chorus, crowding

out your solo voice. You must note

the way the soap dish enables you,

or the window latch grants you freedom.

Alertness is the hidden discipline of familiarity.

The stairs are your mento of things

to come, the doors have always been there

to frighten you and invite you,

and the tiny speaker in the phone

is your dream-ladder to divinity.

Put down the weight of your aloneness and ease into

the conversation. The kettle is singing

even as it pours you a drink, the cooking pots

have left their arrogant aloofness and

seen the good in you at last. All the birds

and creatures of the world are unutterably

themselves. Everything is waiting for you.

–David Whyte


And it helps. More than a little.


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