In these days when the news is filled with young athletes competing to be the best and fulfill their dreams, my mind is grappling with what feels like a paradox. You see, I was raised with the ultimate kind of commitment to what we often call the “protestant work ethic.” My grandfather, who was an inventor and entrepreneur, lived by the following motto:
If you take on the possible and accomplish it, no big deal.
But if you take on the impossible and accomplish it…then you’ve really done something.
So since birth, I was nurtured on this.
There IS something glorious about that kind of quest. And its probably why many of us blog and engage in political activism…we see a better world and no matter the challenge, we’re committed to doing whatever is necessary to reach for that impossible dream.
But there can be a problem with always living for impossible dreams.
I don’t know about you, but part of me sometimes feels like saying…enough. I think this is a concept that especially we here in the US find hard to grasp. What does it mean to…have enough…do enough…be enough?
Here are a few definitions of the word from Dictionary.com.
adequate for the want or need; sufficient for the purpose
in a quantity or degree that answers a purpose or satisfies a need or desire
as much as necessary
Interesting words there…sufficient, adequate, satisfied, enough. These are concepts that don’t seem to be high on our priority lists most of the time, at least not in the world I live in. But sometimes I feel like I need to spend more time there. Is it ever ok to just embrace…I have…I’ve done… I am…enough?
In her book, The Soul of Money, Lynne Twist contrasts the ideas of scarcity and sufficiency. Here’s what she says about the later.
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, and a declaration, a knowing that there is enough, and that we are enough.
When we live in the context of sufficiency, we find a natural freedom and integrity. We engage in life from a sense of our own wholeness rather than a desperate longing to be complete.
For me, its when that lack of awareness of my “wholeness” creates dissatisfaction and I get caught up in a desperate longing to be complete that I feel driven to want more…do more…be more, not recognizing that I already am…enough.
I think Mary Oliver learned what all this means from roses.
Roses, Late Summer
If I had another life
I would want to spend it all on some
I would be a fox, or a tree
full of waving branches.
I wouldn’t mind being a rose
in a field full of roses.
Fear has not yet occurred to them, nor ambition.
Reason they have not yet thought of.
Neither do they ask how long they must be roses, and then what.
Or any other foolish question.