The Magic of Enough

I find these stones beautiful. I took this photo on a trip to Ireland, to visit one of my kids.

Rocks? Enough? Hmmmm.

Abundance! Who does not want abundance? More than enough! Your cup flowing over. You can feel it. Never being in need. Having more than enough to share. The ability to just relax, because all your needs are met. And will be met.

Do you know what that looks like? I mean, could you describe the exact moment that you know you do not have to stockpile for the next social upheaval and can share with your neighbors? Or someone on the other side of the world?

Do you ever wonder if Bill and Melinda Gates ever said to each other after the lights were out, “We can’t possibility spend all this money in our lifetimes. Even if we buy 20 gold-plated private jets. What should we do with it?”

Or what was the tipping point for Andrew Carnegie? Born a poor weaver’s son in Scotland, he became an American industrialist, one of the richest men in the 20th century United States. He then proceeded to give away the largest portion of his fortune to fund 3 thousand public libraries and other cultural endeavors.

Or for Dolly Parton, who seems to almost solely support the economy of eastern Tennessee?

I do not know what their tipping points were. But I can teach you to find your own personal tipping point. And for most of us it does not require billions of dollars. Are you curious?

What is enough?

The first description of enough that rang true to me was in the book Your Money or Your Life by Joe Dominguez and Vicki Robin. Joe describes being really, really, hungry and going out for hamburger. For political correctness (because this is NOT the place we want to lose readers…) you and I are going out for a bowl of mac and cheese…. or maybe vegan lasagna……or maybe raw carrot juice. Please work with me here. Whatever your favorite food may be….you have not eaten for a bit and your animal body is hungry.

There is the scenario. You are hungry. Your favorite food is now available. You eat the delicious burger, or mac and cheese, or vegan lasagna or carrot juice. Whatever delicious thing you eat, your taste buds are jazzed! Your belly is content! It was soooo good! And here you are, still at the restaurant. The company is good, and you are not in a hurry, so you decide to order another of that delicious thing. And you eat the next one, the whole thing. The first was so yummy!  But you are kinda full. So it is not as delicious as the first one was. But it was still pretty good. So, you order another one. And eat that one too. And now you are nauseous, sick to your stomach.

So where is “Not Enough?” It is when you are hungry. And where is “Too Much?”  It is when you are throwing up. You can’t take it all in.

And where is “Enough?” It is somewhere in between.

And here is the key: enough is different in each person and each situation. How many saris does each of Mother Theresa’s nuns need? According to a 1990’s documentary- three: one to wear, one to wash and one to mend.

Let’s consider the generous Dolly Parton, how many saris does she need? Zero. How many sparkly, sequined, full-length gowns does she need? Probably in the hundreds. How many sparkly, sequined gowns to I need? Zero. Where would I wear it? To the library? To the grocery store? To the Social Security Office?

We begin to see that “Enough” varies from person to person and varies for the same person over the course of a lifetime. It pertains to how much food we eat, how much and what kind of clothing we maintain, how many social groups we interact with and just about every aspect of our lives.

Discovering your own personal “Enough” is a kind of meditation on quality of life. You discover your closet is full of clothes that you don’t wear–that is information about what is enough clothing for you. You notice that you feel energized going for a walk with your friend in the morning and are unspeakably lethargic making a dish for an evening potluck gathering at same friend’s home. Hmmmm. That’s interesting.

And here is where the magic occurs: Once you know your “Enough,” just one unit more is abundance. And two units more begins to feel like too much. Like clutter. Like a burden.

You love horses? You have a 200 acre farm? How many horses can you ride in a day? Are they all rescues, that don’t need to be exercised? Are you creating a therapy program with the working horses? How many volunteers can you supervise? Exactly how many horses and how many volunteers is too many?

I raised four children, just the right amount for me. Because I did it on a nurse’s salary and wanted them all to go to university (if they desired it), I had to be very, very efficient in how I allocated our resources. We did not go out to eat, except maybe for Mother’s Day. We lived in a modest home. Everybody had a week’s worth of clothes, until they stopped growing. Then the clothes stockpiled a bit. Ha! Abundance!

We have navigated “too many activities” and “too many Christmas celebrations” and “not enough money for the college I want to go to” and “how many cars does one household need?” And what is the most facile and economical way to have 3 meals a day for 4-5 people, every single day?

I know that your personal “Enough” will be mitigated by your culture, and your family, and the length of the cycles of plenty and scarcity that occur in your region.  If you have walked on foot out of a war-torn region, I dare-say, material “Enough” is what you carry on your person. And personal safety “Enough” is something that you will describe to me.

But I am confident in this–want to have abundance? Find your “Enough” first. Abundance is in the close shadow of “Enough.”

13 thoughts on “The Magic of Enough

  1. I like what Mother Theresa said about money: “You only need so much to take care of yourself and your family; the rest is just showing off”. We live in such a materialistic and shallow world that most people don’t even know what “enough” means or feels like. They just keep buying and buying to fill an endless void. I believe once you find what is causing the void, then you’ll know when you have enough.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Wise words, Diane. I do think that you can find enough after studying the void. And I believe that you can learn about the void by approaching it from the side of enough.

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  2. What a fantastic post, Fawn! I laughed a little (Dolly Parton in a Sari), I nodded my head a lot.

    I think we can be unbalanced. Too much lasagna in one side of our stomach, not enough cookies or carrot juice in the other, or too many toys for our kids and not enough cooking utensils to fix dinner.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think most of us are a little unbalanced in some areas. In my experience, though, once you find the sweet spot of “enough” in one area, you go looking for it in others. It just feels good!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Great post!
    Somethings I have no trouble finding my “enough” point, other things, not so much. Wine, perhaps. 🙂 I guess paying more attention to myself & not trying to take on everyone else’s burdens & needs surely would help me to find my “enough”.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. What a great post Fawn. I to am still trying to find “healthy boundaries” and “what is other people’s business”. It is particularly difficult when you have an adult child at home who needs support and also elderly parents who also need help. Also on top of that comes the difference between your own expectations and those of someone else and trying to stay true to yourself.
    I have had the old saying of “one to wash, one to air and one to wear” on my mind for the past few weeks. I think someone is prompting me to sort out my clothes!

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  5. I find it’s a lot easier to know what my enough is for now, than to know what will be enough for the future. Of course, the older I get, the less future there is so it’s not quite as iffy.
    What we are seeing now in the world is that people who thought they had enough get propelled into new circumstances where either they have less (got furloughed, for instance) or their needs increased (got sick, have more medical bills than they can handle, and they need home health care). How do we know that what looks like enough now will still be enough if circumstances change? Maybe we need four saris–one to wash, one to air, one to wear, and one to give away.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Swissrose! YMOYL and Janet Luhrs have been inspirations for me as well. I don’t consider myself in their bandwidth. Ha Ha. The message is NOT new, but just has a few newer messengers.

      Liked by 1 person

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