The Reverie of Lack


I love it when a turn of phrase flips my thinking on its ear. The Reverie of Lack does that for me. It is from Lynne Twist, in her book The Soul of Money. Here is the passage:

“For me, and for many of us, our first waking thought of the day is, “I didn’t get enough sleep.” The next one is, “I don’t have enough time.” Whether true or not, that thought of not enough occurs to us automatically before we even think to question or examine it. We spend most of the hours and the days of our lives hearing, explaining, complaining, or worrying about what we don’t have enough of…We don’t have enough exercise. We don’t have enough work. We don’t have enough profits. We don’t have enough power. We don’t have enough wilderness. We don’t have enough weekends. Of course, we don’t have enough money – ever.

We’re not thin enough, we’re not smart enough, we’re not pretty enough or fit enough or educated or successful enough, or rich enough – ever. Before we even sit up in bed, before our feet touch the floor, we’re already inadequate, already behind, already losing, already lacking something. And by the time we go to bed at night our minds race with a litany of what we didn’t get, or didn’t get done, that day. We go to sleep burdened by those thoughts and wake up to the reverie of lack…What begins as a simple expression of the hurried life, or even the challenged life, grows into the great justification for an unfulfilled life.”

I am guilty of this and have always been. I could be ashamed of admitting it, but I’ve come to learn that I am far from alone in this mindset,….that indeed we are all being programmed daily to believe in our lack, else what would commerce have to sell us? We NEED the new phone, car, shampoo, teeth whitener, food, drink, drug, diet, lottery ticket, injury attorney…to be happier, to be okay, to be competitive, to be desirable. Our lack is being drilled into us daily, so of course we are in a state of hypnosis or reverie. To the degree that we refuse to admit it and wrestle with it, is the degree to which the reverie has taken hold!

Power of Scarcity

And now, in this nasty political season, and in this righteously-commentative media chapter of our technological evolution, our LACK is all we hear about, not to mention the darkness of TV programming. We like to believe this is being thrust down our throats, but we hold the remotes, people! We watch because it is a match to something deep in our psyches that is starving.

I am something of a one-trick-pony in the topics I write about here, I realize. I write about waking up, and waking up more, and waking up more.  It is hard work and daily practice to wake up to our perceptions, to see the hypnosis into which we keep falling.

Several years ago, I wrote a poem about my own struggle with the hypnotic mindset of lack. Here it is:


Teeth clenched tight,
armpits leaking resentment,
I slog the dark rapids,
flawless, opiate.

The machinery has invested
all the way up to my throat:
a gas pump, a pipeline,
a shrewd refinery.

Faint in the downpour
I hear jubilance, joy;
the tinkling existence
of an alternate world,

and I finally go rabid,
mad hatter, bell tower,
a writhing wildling,
an implosion of spew.

Surely this must be hell,
the utter dark night,
walking in water
and thirsting to death.

So ultimately, this blog post is about gratitude – the practice of gratitude. We talk about it a lot, of course. We have talked about it so much that, like many profound ideas, it has lost its profundity. We say, “yeah, yeah,” and slough it off. You might be feeling that inwardly right this moment. I can feel it in myself. But what I know from past experience, and what I need to re-engage in a fierce way these days of dark hypnosis, is that gratitude practice is a reverie-buster, a hypnosis awakener. And it must be a practice, something we deliberately do every day, to create new neural pathways, a new way of thinking.

Here’s another passage from The Soul of Money:

“We each have the choice in any setting to step back and let go of the mind-set of scarcity. Once we let go of scarcity, we discover the surprising truth of sufficiency. By sufficiency, I don’t mean a quantity of anything. Sufficiency isn’t two steps up from poverty or one step short of abundance. It isn’t a measure of barely enough or more than enough. Sufficiency isn’t an amount at all. It is an experience, a context we generate, a declaration, a knowing that there is enough, and that we are enough.

Sufficiency resides inside of each of us, and we can call it forward. It is a consciousness, an attention, an intentional choosing of the way we think about our circumstances.”

So today, this holiday weekend, I choose again to wake myself up from the dark, apocalyptic marathon. It feels like a crowbar is necessary sometimes to pry the lid off that trance, but we can do this!

I will leave you with this last thought from my friend Mimi Peak, who is a world-class Life Coach of Anthony Robbins’ inner circle. She said to me recently:

“People begin to decline when they no longer have a compelling future.”

I think that is just so profoundly true.  And here’s the thing: a compelling future can not be imagined from the dark reverie of lack.

Much love, everyone. I wish you joy this weekend, and as many moments of gratitude as you can touch.


14 Replies to “The Reverie of Lack”

  1. Great post…as always!! I love Lyn Twist and you!! And, you are do right, walking ourselves out of the hypnosis of scarcity and fear is absolutely the first step to creating a compelling future that makes us and everyone we touch come alive with the seeming magic of possibility!!

  2. Oh Angie, :). I feel fortunate to be able to hear you even though I’m far away now! You words create such a visceral reaction in me. Sometimes I know this – and avoid reading some of the things you post, much like someone would avoid talking about their feelings. But, much like discussing feelings, I always feel better when I do read on! I can just hear your voice! Thanks. Just for being you. You are one of a kind! MUCH LOVE TO YOU!

    1. Beca, so great to hear from you! I miss you! Yes, I do tend to go straight for the jugular. 😉 Bless you, woman. Hope you are well!

  3. Bless you for your truth-seeking unflinching quest for waking up and connecting to Source every moment! You are a marvel, my friend. Sharing!

  4. Great stuff, Angie! The illusion of scarcity is powerful and complex. Charles Eisenstein writes about it a lot. It is the primary concept that drives our money based economy. It also drives our perception that we are all separate, and blinds us to the reality that we are all connected. I LOVE the idea of “sufficient”, that “enough” actually is enough. I am in a constant battle between “enough” and “not enough”, between happiness and despair, pride and shame. I tell myself every day that I am the luckiest person on Earth (which is true) because I have so much – family, love, health, music, community, etc. But, somehow, the slowly dwindling bank account, the impending state of “broke” (what a powerful word), the ever looming “scarcity” ghost are all nipping at my heels, moaning through the night that I aint got nothin”! So, the battle rages on. When I am strong and in the moment, I know I have everything I need, sufficiency rules. But when the inevitable mojo crash happens, I feel like a child who has lost his mother’s hand and is alone in the corybantic ( word of the day today!) crowd. I even had a dream about it the other night. I was separated from my tour manager in a strange European town between the hotel and the gig and had no idea where I was or where I was going. Why do we torture ourselves while we sleep? Why do we torture ourselves when we are awake is probably a better question. Thank you for posting, for making us ask and answer these questions, for reminding us that happiness is a choice, and enough really is enough 🙂

    1. Great to hear from you, Jim, as always. We ARE waking up, thank goodness, else we wouldn’t even recognize that there is an alternate perception. Of course, I would like it if my awareness was more invulnerable to the trance, but I know we have to be tolerant of right where we are in the learning curve. We catch ourselves with one foot in each realm (enough/not enough) and we lean! It’s the catching ourselves that we devote our lives to.

      I agree, sufficiency is a wonderfully tight descriptor…like a stop sign for the mind…to remind us again and again.

      Blessings, my friend! Hoping to hang with you next time you are down this way.

I would love to hear your thoughts!