Susan Naomi Bernstein is a writer and educator living in Queens, NY. Her blog is called: “Beyond the Basics” (for Bedford Bits)
Today my spouse of nearly thirty years asked me: “Do you have everything you need?” My spouse was asking about lunch— and yet—the existential sweetness of that inquiry fills me with inspiration.
In times that seem to offer little but scarcity and austerity, I wonder often what constitutes abundance. What do people in our world need to survive spiritually and materially? A list based on the Universal Declaration of Human Rights offers the following: A roof over our heads, food in our bellies, healthcare for our well being, clothing for our bodies, education (inside and outside of schools) for our hearts and minds—as well as freedom from violence, from physical and spiritual oppression.
Recently, I contemplated the quandary of clothing. After an afternoon of attempting to make peace with the clutter in my life, I packed a bag shirts, skirts, pants, and sweaters. This packing was no easy task. As I realized these clothes no longer fit my body and that I would never wear any of these pieces again, my sentimental attachments to each piece lingered. Even as I considered the ample resources that remained in my closet, I still felt concern about lack. Yet on this afternoon I would discover that I had enough—and that I had had enough.
According to the Jewish tradition of mitzvah, I had not disclosed to anyone where I had gone. Only hesitantly did I relate my errand to my spouse afterwards, and even more hesitantly do I disclose that errand here. Yet my spouse’s question: “Do you have everything you need?” opens me to the challenge of recognizing abundance. And so I take the deepest of breaths and share once more share my experiences in writing. Such experiences are lessons fostered and learned in the exuberant remembrance of Autumn 2011 in Zuccotti Park. In moments of seeming austerity, writing extends this gift of abundance—an opportunity to become fully alive and fully human in the presence of our days.