It’s safe to say that at any given point in time, there’s always an abundance of something. Before dismissing that statement as self-evident or overly simplistic, one can amend it to say that abundance is always in flux. This gets more interesting. Contemplating abundance is one good way to break away from one’s usual preoccupations-of-the-moment (the Red Sox season, the Facebook page, worries inspired by today’s headlines) and to go for a broader perspective, if only briefly. Call it an exercise in greater awareness, never a bad thing.
Doing this the week of the 4th of July, consider it a move towards a kind of freedom, of what sort remaining to be seen. For starters, try acknowledging the natural world, currently awash in an abundance of light and warmth and occasional godawful heat. Be aware that you are currently surrounded by an abundance of birds, the highest numbers of the year, as the adults are joined by newborns trying to make their way in the world. Many won’t make it very far, such is nature – those first weeks of life are tough ones, and the attrition will continue steadily, right into next Spring when the whole cycle begins again, as it has for millennia. Massachusetts is also currently witnessing an abundance of gypsy moths, the worst outbreak since 1981, to which thousands of leafless trees bear witness. A drive out the Mass Pike can be sobering, spectacular in a kind of grim way. Maybe more impressive is the fact that the trees aren’t dead, a testimony to nature’s resilience, at least for this year.
Moving beyond this planet, the recent arrival of a human-sourced spacecraft at Jupiter’s front door, five years and 540 million miles distant, is a dramatic reminder of the incomprehensible abundance of space and time that characterizes our universe, one in which Jupiter happens to be a very close neighbor. Modern astrophysics suggests that our known universe may be only one among many, an abundance of abundance. Try to get your mind around that perspective! That the human mind can conceive of such a thing is remarkable in itself. Even more remarkable is how that same human mind, yours and this BH consultant’s included, can get so tripped up by an abundance of negative thoughts of every conceivable sort, that too often serve no other purpose than to make us suffer unnecessarily. The irony is that in spite of our ability to shift perspectives when we so choose, the one perspective we struggle with (or simply lack) is the one that can provide a healthy distance from all these thoughts, at least sometimes.
Jon Kabat-Zinn, the local mindfulness guy, talks of “an inner spaciousness” that can be achieved with enough diligent, focused effort, and that this can be transformational. He has seen it in cancer patients, among the many people he has treated. It sounds like an abundance of some kind, but of what? It probably can’t be put in words.
John Dabrowski LICSW
Neponset Health Center
Geiger Gibson Community Health Center