Humble Discipline to Transform What You Think Are Curses to Blessings

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My notes from when I first heard my abundance teacher define abundance: "Deep acceptance of what is" with gratitude.

I was used to gratitude to shift my thinking when obsessed with what frustrated, what thwarted my intentions, what out and out annoyed me. Abundance sounded appealing—and easy.

I joined my teacher's online group, fancying relief from a two-year earning slump any morning.

Life's endless detours for money, neglecting my fascination with word craft, must be ever so nearly done. I visualized customers happy to pay for my writing talent more than I'd earned in all the detours.

Five years have passed.

How grateful am I that meantime my income's not transgressed its rut?

Wow! In the book of Numbers, Old Testament King Balak's panicking. A crowd of crowds escaping Egyptian slavery flattened a nearby king's army, seizing his kingdom.

Balak had amused me, seeming either stupid or desperate. He summons this eccentric fellow, Balaam, who's reputedly got supernatural insight—a prophet. Balak wants Balaam to curse the invading former slaves so that, should they try to kill Balak for his kingdom, they'll fail.

Traveling to meet Balak, Balaam gets pissed when the donkey he rides will keep neither to the path nor moving. He beats her until she starts talking to him.

 Gustav Jaeger  Balaam and the Angel  courtesy Wikimedia Commons

Gustav Jaeger Balaam and the Angel courtesy Wikimedia Commons

Enter Balak's man of the urgent hour. Balak reminds Balaam that his curse's worth wealth and status in his kingdom. Slaughtering a whole herd of livestock to please the deity, he takes his man to a place overlooking the vast tent city of the likely invaders. But Balaam utters only benedictions on Balak's looming enemies.

Balak starts to look idiotic, repeating the scene, killing as many more oxen, sheep, and goats and expecting now Balaam will pronounce the curse. Disappointed again, he yet doubles the attempts he allows Balaam to render a curse equal to his hire.

I might chuckle at Balak's persistence with a hireling prophet. What about my own persistence? Five years following a guide towards abundance and no significant income boost?

I wonder if here's the fiery gate I so far haven't rallied chutzpah to enter: how grateful am I for this five years of making do working long hours for very little pay? The same old career detours? I've got to smile. The question seems ludicrous.

And smile even more. Am I ignorant of some calculus of blessings and curses? My dictionary defines gratitude as appreciation of benefits.

To my untaught thinking, gratitude for five years trying to hatch abundance and finding only five years the same rotten-egg poverty seems insulting. What blessing?

What if I were willing to compost my impatience and vexation? It would get harder to put something in my way about which I find no trace of blessing. What if these five years were a test lest, attaining abundant resources, I abuse them, degrading self and communities?

Things for which I'm most prone to deny gratitude bless me with opportunities to sustain difficult feelings. Awakening feelings and prompting my harmlessly releasing their toxins is no puny blessing.

If my principal gift for abundance to magnify is as a writer and wordsmith, I'd well heed folkloric storyteller Scheherazade's example.

While her received story brims with unbelievable exaggerations, a portrait of courage and resourcefulness shines through. In Scheherazade's time, her ruler determines his wife had cheated. He has her killed and resolves never to allow it again. Henceforth, he'll marry and, the morning after, order his bride beheaded.

Abundance gone berserk reeks from his reaction. Male potentates typically want to sire princes and princesses. This ruler's remedy ensured none would be. Scheherazade's on his bridal hit list.

 Sophie Gengembre Anderson  Scheherazade  courtesy Wikimedia Commons

Sophie Gengembre Anderson Scheherazade courtesy Wikimedia Commons

On what's expected to be her last night alive, Scheherazade beguiles her tyrannical husband with a story, stretching it out till dawn, the end untold. She promises the rest the next night—trusting her life to his suspense.

Thus begins nearly three years of her living a night at a time, a story at a time, by the end of which she's checked her husband's insane rigidity and restored equilibrium to his realm.

Did gratitude for everything propel her? I've yet to see what changes as I take up the challenge in my own life. Will I ride a talking donkey, a magic carpet …? No! It's a couchbike!


Taxi driver and freelance editor Don McMillan commutes to his taxi job on a bicycle that he swears never talks back.

 
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