Pick Me!

A weblog by Laura Moncur


Scarcity Thinking

Filed under: Philosophy — Laura Moncur @ 6:00 am

Scarcity thinking has driven me my whole life. I don’t know when it started, but I remember being young and worrying about not getting enough food. I think my first thoughts on scarcity were before Stacey was born, so that would be before I was five years old. I remember the first time I worried about not having enough. I was going to the Montessori school that morning and it was time for breakfast. My mom said to me, “Well, your dad ate all the cereal and milk last night, so we don’t have anything for breakfast.” I don’t know what she fed me for breakfast that morning, but I didn’t know that it was possible for someone to eat an entire box of cereal and gallon of milk while I slept.

Of course, my dad’s bingeing problems directly correlate to my bingeing problems. I learned how to binge a little bit from Sceverenia, but I learned the most detrimental eating habits from my father. His late night binges left me with the fear that there might not be food for me in the morning. His incredible eating speed, left me with the fear that I might not get enough food at dinner time because he might eat it all.

None of this is an accurate portrayal of reality. If the milk and cereal were decimated in the late-night binge, I’m sure there were plenty of bread and eggs for a good breakfast. If my dad had eaten all the food that was available for dinner, I’m sure Mom would have gladly given me a sandwich or a dessert if I were still hungry. I’m not talking about reality, however. I’m talking about perception. From a very young age, I have operated from the perception of scarcity.

This perception doesn’t stop with food. It has run through everything in my life. I act as if there is never enough time, fun, money or friends. I could be happily enjoying a Sunday brunch with my friends and I will think about how rare these times are. I’ll be thinking about setting up the next meeting because our days are numbered. For all I know everything is going to change and we won’t be friends anymore. I have to enjoy this moment while I can.

This can be very helpful. Carpe Diem – Seize the Day! The entire philosophy behind that phrase is the idea that we only have a limited number of days. All of it is true on a universal scale. There is a limited amount of everything on this planet: food, money, time and friends. On a grand scale, all of it is finite.

I don’t live on a grand scale. I am just one human being. No matter how poor I was, I always had twenty cents to afford a bowl of ramen noodles. I have never starved in my life because of scarcity. I have only starved because my grandma withheld food from me or I withheld food from myself. Both of those bouts of starvation were followed by father-like binges. No matter how busy I was, there was always time to zone out in front of the television. There was plenty of time for things that I didn’t particularly want to do. Lack of time was just an illusion.

Even my fears about putting my book online are based in scarcity. I’m scared that publishers won’t want my book if it has already been on the Internet, because I think there is only one way to publish a book. I’m scared that I’ll disenfranchise publishers because I think that there are only a limited number of publishers out there. It is true that there are only a finite number of science fiction book publishers, but I only need one to get this book in print form. Print form might not even be the way books are read in the future. For all I know, I AM my own publisher and in the future, this is how books will be read.

I’ve decided to shove it. Even though the finite nature of our planet is verifiable truth, I’ve decided to believe otherwise. There will always be enough for me. If I want something it will be there and I refuse to act as if it might not be there. I know hippies think about this all the time, but this is different. I’m not acting as if “The Universe” or some divine being will provide for me. I’m deciding that there must be plenty of everything out there for me, so I’m going to go out and find it. I’m not depending on voodoo to provide the bounty. I’m going out and getting it because I know it’s out there somewhere.

There will always be enough food. I will never starve. Just like in The Good Earth, I could go out and eat grass if I got hungry enough. Knowing that there is enough food for me really helps me to leave that piece of cake alone. I don’t need to eat it today because it will be there tomorrow. If it isn’t, there will be a different and potentially more delectable piece of cake in its place.

There will always be enough money. Even though things are slow and they’ve cut my hours, there will be enough money. I don’t know where it’s going to come from, but it is always there when we need it. I refuse to accept that I might be poor again. No matter what happens. We will take care of ourselves.

There will always be enough time. When I’m feeling like I don’t have enough time to have fun it’s because I don’t allow myself to play. Setting appointments for fun is just as important as setting appointments for work. Sure, the lawn needs to be mowed and the laundry needs to be done, but I need to play Dance Dance Revolution and Mike needs to get that Gold Medal on Project Gotham Racing. Both are important and there is enough time for play and work and family and for nothing if I just want to sit and do nothing.

There will always be enough friends. Dylan moved to Boston, but Richard just came back to town from California. No matter where I’ve been, I’ve been able to find friends at work and for play. If I wanted a jogging partner, I’m sure I could find one within a week. If I wanted a group of friends to play pinochle with, all I would need to do is ask a few questions and put up with a few old biddies. There have been times in my life when I felt lonely, but the minute I reached out to find someone, there was always a person there.

I’ve talked about Cognitive Dissonance before. I’ve lived in a place where I’ve believed two contradictory things at the same time. I still live there. This is the first time I’ve consciously decided to put myself in Cognitive Dissonance. I know that resources are finite. I know that there will always be enough resources for me. I believe both to be true and it causes me no pain to live with both ideas freely.


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