[At a party given by a billionaire on Shelter Island, Kurt Vonnegut informs his pal, Joseph Heller, that their host, a hedge fund manager, had made more money in a single day than Heller had earned from his wildly popular novel Catch 22 over its whole history. Heller responds, “Yes, but I have something he will never have . . . enough.”]
“Enough (adjective): occurring in such quantity, quality, or scope as to fully meet demands, needs, or expectations .”
It seems that we all do a strange slow dance with ‘enough’ throughout our adult lives; it reminds me of an 8th grade first school dance under garish lights and under the watchful eyes of chaperones and, more importantly, peers. Am I dressed well enough? Am I dancing well enough? Is the person I’m dancing with enough?
Typically, in America, money, and the things money can buy, are the ready evidence of success and having ‘enough’ money is the premier goal. Certainly, having a prestigious education, and a successful and beautiful family are also part of this equation–but these are often considered as brought on by the achieved wealth. I went through this process in life, and eventually had a very good job, great cars, a big beautiful home, and wonderful children. But, this all eventually crashed in classic Greek Tragedy fashion. “The primary elements of classical tragedy are a hero (or heroine) with hubris, the involvement of the gods, a reversal or fall, acknowledgement of error and a period of suffering.” And, spit out the other side, I’ve reached a new understanding about success in life, what is enough, and what it takes to satisfy me.
I believe I have enough now.
I’m not sure I ever had enough during the most successful parts of my life.
Per the abovementioned definition, I now mostly feel that my “demands, needs or expectations” are “fully met” now. I don’t demand much from life anymore, I realize how little I need, and therefore my expectations are different. Notice that I didn’t say that my expectations are lower, or degraded somehow–just different. And I think that this expectation recalibration is the key to my newfound equanimity. I expect to notice wildflowers when I hike in the woods, I expect to be kind and to receive kindness, and I expect to bathe in the sun and surf of Good Harbor Beach this summer. I expect to see my family a lot, to have the love of a wonderful woman, and to indulge my penchant for writing. I expect to garden, and by doing so, connect the therapeutic dots on making all the important things in our lives thrive.
That, and a great cup of coffee in the morning, are enough.