March 29, 2014

What is Enough?

Live is busy, isn’t it? Not just a little either–it seems to demand more of me than I think I have on a regular basis. Maybe you too.

I’ve got my day job (programming) and my writing job (if you’re here, you know about that) and my non-profit job (helping my wife do her amazing work) and we’ve been remodeling our bathroom and dealing with all the other things a life brings.

And for a long time I kept thinking: It’s not enough. I can’t do enough. I can’t get enough work done. I can’t get my books out fast enough. I can’t keep up with my rapidly changing profession. I can’t do enough for my family. I can’t keep my desk clean or my to do list under control. And I certainly don’t update this blog enough.

But what is enough?

I was thinking on this back in January when my wife and I got away for a week to celebrate her birthday. We left town, holed up in a small cabin, and let go of as much of all of this as we could. Had time to think. Time to read. Time to catch up on sleep.

And I came a realization:  It is never “enough.”

Hang with me. Enough is in quotes above for a reason we’ll get to shortly.

It’s never enough because we are human beings. So that meal you just had that tasted great and filled your belly–not enough, you’re going to be hungry again soon. That great cleaning you just gave your house–not enough, it’ll be dirty before you know it.  That project of the heart you just finished and feel so satisfied about–not enough either, you’ll be longing to do something again soon. That work you heroically did for you company–yup, not enough, they want more from you today.

It’s just the nature of being biological and experiencing time.  Things change. While we are taking care of one thing another thing is getting behind like some game of whack-a-mole.

Photo by Joe Mazzola

Life is the endless chasm of need that can never be completely filled for more than a moment.

And this is a good thing.

Because it means we are alive.

And here is where my realization came in. I get to decide what is enough. When I’ve given enough of myself and when others have given enough to me. Is it “enough” in a absolute sense? Only for a moment. But the truth is that we decide. How much is enough in our relationships, in our jobs, in chasing our passions, in having fun.

We decide how much is enough.

No quotations around enough above. That’s our enough, not the world’s.

So I have started doing a little ritual after my morning Chi Gung. I say something like (it varies): Just for today I am enough for this world and this world is enough for me.

I still work hard, this just helps take the pressure off a bit. Helps me remember to celebrate those little moments of balance when things are briefly “enough,” helps me walk away from things when I’ve made some progress (even if it doesn’t feel like enough), helps me realize that there will always be more to do.

If you are walking through your life feeling you can’t do enough or you don’t have enough. Take a moment. Take a deep breath. Let it be enough, just for that one moment. Feel yourself calm. Let your shoulders relax. Smile.

And yes, this is just attitude. But attitude is everything.

…And that is enough of a blog post for today. I have a lot more coming story-wise and am excited to share. It is all taking longer than I’d like, but it is coming. I worked on one of them today and that is enough.

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Robert J. McCarter

Robert J. McCarter is the author of more than ten novels and over a hundred short stories...... learn more

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