Scarcity: It’s What’s for Breakfast

2014_7.13

I am an aspiring author. There, I’ve said it. Four years of architecture school, two-and-a-half years of grad school, five years of internship, six months of daily studying, a week of exams, licensure, some more jobs, five businesses, dozens of projects and – now you say, you want to be a writer? What are you thinking?

What can I say? I got the call. You know, the call that Joseph Campbell talks about that kicks off the “hero’s journey.” D.H. Lawrence, in this poem, named it the “three strange angels” who knock on your door in the middle of the night. You don’t really want to answer, but you know it can’t be avoided. They’ll just keep coming back until you answer.

The good thing about saying yes to the call is that help always comes right when you need it. You can’t know at the outset what you’re going to need or where the help will come from, or even what form it will take. That’s all part of the game. Your job is to say yes and embark on the adventure. And that’s what I did. For the last four years, my mantra has been, “I’ll do whatever it takes.” And I have. The experience has completely changed how I look at pretty much everything, and the changes keep coming.

Living life this way requires a remodel on the stories I tell myself, including the story of scarcity. Scarcity is so ubiquitous in our modern culture that we take it for granted as truth. Scarcity tells us there isn’t enough to go around, when look! Every day, the sun sends more energy to the earth than we need to power all the houses in this country for a year. Scarcity says I can’t have what I want, when there are countless examples of something even better finding its way to me.

This scarcity story means I have to carefully guard myself against the copious evidence that I stand a far better chance of being struck by lightning – twice – than having a book published and widely read. (Let alone made into a film!) Why do that, you may wonder. It’s realistic; it’s true there are millions of wannabes and only a handful “make it.”

Yesterday, I read about a well-known, best-selling author who happens to be married to another well-known, best-selling author (and happily, dammit). I could have taken her story as proof that it is possible – after all, two people in the same family are doing it! Instead, I let my resistance take over and tell me a story of scarcity. In this frame of mind, I followed a Twitter link of hers to a blog by the Washington Posts’s Book World editor, who said their mailroom receives 150 books every day from publishers. That’s every freakin’ day. His plea was to self-published writers not to send him their books, because he’s already drowning in well-edited, “legitimate” stuff. I know what you’re thinking – yup, that was dumb to read that.

Here’s the thing. I’m learning that the way things work around here is pretty simple, until we make them complicated by resisting what wants to come through us. That resistance can take any number of forms, including procrastination, envy, and self-doubt, as well as believing the story of scarcity. I choose to align myself with abundance because it feels so much better. The point is, only by averting my eyes from the story of scarcity and aligning with what feels good will I be an effective channel for what wants to come through me. And that’s what I’m here for.

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