The Shadow Side of Abundance

I’ve connected a few strands in the cobweb of my mind.  Follow me, if you will.

I’ve been thinking about my shadow side, my dark side, and I’ve located an area that I think could be it.  It lurks in my ego, in the part of me that craves attention for myself at the possible expense of others.  This is where I am tempted to be manipulative and fake.  The origins of this desire are nebulous, but I can identify manifestations in my childhood.  I was daughter #4 in my family, the youngest child for 11 years, the only blonde, with a ski-jump nose and a pouty lower lip.  I was cute (pardon my use of this hated word, Steve!), especially to strangers.  My family used to tease me for being “touched by waiters” because every time we went out to eat, the waiter would pat me on the head or something.  I loved being cute.  I loved the attention because my deep-seated fear was that I was redundant.   With three older sisters, there was always someone near at hand who was smarter, more accomplished, and better than me at everything.  I struggled to find a niche where I could have my own spotlight.  I actually found that in music, so I majored in Voice Performance in college.  My mother was very musical, but a rather shy performer.  I pushed myself to overcome my natural fear of being judged so that I could stand out every once in a while.  This thread leads to….

Salieri in “Amadeus”.  His dark ego leads him to all kinds of hateful thoughts about Mozart and about the God who favors him.  This fear of redundancy gripped him.  He saw the world as a competitive arena.  “This town ain’t big enough for the both of us” is a theme in a lot of movies, actually.  Walking to the farmer’s market today, I noticed redundancy all over.  Nature is full of it.  How many leaves gather in the gutter?  How many stands of squash and potatoes gather for market?  How many people, how many birds, how many mice or ants or whatever do we really need?  What is the point of abundance and why is redundancy a bad thing?  Follow “Amadeus” to….

Cynthia Nixon, who played Mozart’s maid and Salieri’s “spy”.  This is the only performance of hers that I’ve actually seen.  I did find an article on her when I read and researched the Pulizer Prize winning play, “Wit”.  I discovered that she is in a lesbian relationship now, and she was quoted as saying that she never thought of herself as a lesbian.  What she did say was that “here was this undeniable person”.  That phrase stuck with me.  I wonder at all the things we find redundant and ask if we are denying them.  Of all the leaves that I encountered on this windy day, did I deny most of them and only notice a few?  I actually picked up only one to look at it more closely.

We don’t know what to do with abundance.  We can’t possibly take it all in, so we deny much of it and acknowledge only a portion.  The rest we call “redundant” because we have no use for it.  But Nature is abundant for some reason.  Could it be that it’s not just for us?  Oh, that’s hard for our egos to imagine.  Think of the use of pesticides.  Why in the world would there be so many little critters who eat vegetation?  We don’t need them. It must be a mistake.  Let’s kill them off.  What’s the result?  Dead soil – no humus, no living matter mixed with the rock, no space for air and water and roots.

Do we need all these beetles? Hey, maybe it's not about what 'we' need.

We live in an abundant world, and we are part of that abundance.  How do we refrain from denial and keep our minds open to more than we can comprehend?  The balance between abundance and scarcity in Nature keeps populations in flux and unpredictable.  Therefore, I suppose redundancy has its place in an uncertain future.  This is an ancient wisdom.  When we eliminate redundancy because it doesn’t make sense to our economic mindset, we are dangerously engaged in hubris.  Why are we allowing our seed banks to be monopolized and diminished, for instance?   Why are we allowing the rate of extinction to skyrocket?  Why are we allowing our denial to be imprinted on the planet?  We act in ignorance because we have no choice, that is to say that we will never understand the world completely.  But we need not act impetuously out of false assumptions driven by our egos.

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