“Oreos, or candy corn?” I asked Huck, my three-year-old, as I was packing his school lunch. I was following the popular advice given to parents of toddlers by giving the precocious little guy a choice, and therefore empowering him on some level (or so they say).
Without a moment’s hesitation, he replied, “Oreos AND candy corn!”
Well, that backfired! I thought.
I chuckled, of course. I chuckled, because he’s only three, and he doesn’t understand that life is full of limited choices. He hasn’t yet been introduced to the concept of scarcity. He doesn’t understand that there aren’t enough Oreos and candy corn for us to have them both.
As I was chuckling, I was suddenly struck by something. Maybe it wasn’t Huck’s thinking that was amusing. Maybe it was my own thinking that was laughable. Maybe little Huck, the precocious preschooler who didn’t know any better, was actually on to something.
We make ourselves choose, because we know there isn’t enough for us to have both. But what if there was?
I remember once watching Oprah interview J.K. Rowling – a fascinating interview between two incredibly prosperous women who had created their own fortunes from very humble beginnings. At one point, Oprah asked J.K. if she was starting to understand what her monetary wealth could do in her life. J.K. exuberantly exclaimed, “I think it’s that moment when you’re trying to choose between two things … And you think – I could – …”
At that point, Oprah cut in with, “I could get both!”
The two women looked at each other with complete understanding. They had reached such a level of success that they could get both of whatever it was they previously had to choose between. They could get both. What an amazing concept.
Their realization may have been about material goods, but I saw the look in their eyes when they were talking enthusiastically to each other. Their success and wealth had removed a barrier in their lives – they no longer had to limit themselves. But who said they had to limit themselves in the first place?
That interview has stayed with me ever since I saw it in 2010, because there was such honesty and marvel in the expressions of these two incredible women. The moment of realizing their abundance was profound. I wanted to feel that someday, too.
Now, I am starting to realize that I already can feel that abundance. Not with sweaters, or cars, or other material goods – I still have to choose when I’m dealing with that kind of stuff. But that kind of stuff doesn’t really matter in the grand scheme of things.
We don’t need that kind of STUFF to be happy. And we also don’t always need to choose between two things we love. There’s enough to go around. There’s more than enough.
The stuff we really need – friendships, compassion, love, understanding, experience, growth, knowledge – that stuff is unlimited. There is plenty of that good stuff to go around. That’s the kind of stuff that will make us happy.
I’m not Oprah, or J.K. Rowling. I don’t have enough money to always get both of any particular material good. But I do have enough love to give to the world. I have enough humility to receive love from those around me. I also have a heart full of compassion, a body full of energy and a mind full of ideas. I’m overflowing with the stuff that I really need. The abundance is astounding.
I have enough of what really matters. I have enough, and I am enough – just as I am. I don’t need to choose between the good stuff.
I’m also a mom who happens to have both Oreos and candy corn to give my son today. Today, he can have both.
What an abundant world we live in, if we open our eyes to see what really matters.