Sunday, April 24, 2011

What is enough?

This topic has been on my heart and in my mind for the last couple of years.  The idea of enough.  What is enough?  What is too much?  What is worth it to do in order to obtain enough?  What do you do when you don't have enough?  Can you have enough?  Do we all have enough of at least what we truly need and just not know it?  Should we have more than enough, just in case?

I live in a small house and honestly, from day one of living here, 700 square feet has never felt like enough space.  So after a few years of complaining, pouting and generally acting like a child about it while I crammed things in piles or bought the latest organizational system to hopefully cure my woes, I began to change my habits.  Before, I was one to save every note, every memento of my life and every item I had ever bought, found or been given.  Before, I'd take something I didn't need or have space for just because it was free and I might need it someday.  After a while, I couldn't breathe.  I couldn't function or stand to be in my own home.  There was just TOO MUCH.  So I became somewhat of an anti-hoarder.  I purged, purged and purged again my closets, my drawers... everything.  And I began to feel like I could breathe again and that my space was finally truly worth something to me.

Don't get me wrong... my space woes and tendency towards feeling cluttered hasn't gone away and in many ways, I am still a collector.  We are three fully functioning people living in a small space.  We deal with clothing, furniture, hobbies, toys and more on a daily basis.  Some days it gets cluttered.  Some days I feel like if I have to find one more spot to put something, I might go a bit crazy.  And when I am feeling particularly self pitying, I am too wishful for more, more, more and not grateful of what I have.

Tonight, I finally got around to watching an episode of Oprah that I DVRd with the director Tom Shadyac (Ace Ventura, The Nutty Professor, Liar Liar & Bruce Almighty).  Tom Shadyac is a multi-million dollar earning, successful director who could for all intensive purposes, have whatever he wants.  And for a while, he did that.  Bought the multi-million dollar mansion, etc.  But, as he said, "I was standing in the house that my culture had taught me was a measure of the good life.  I was struck with one very clear, very strange feeling: I was no happier."  After suffering a horrible accident and recovery from it, he began to film his new documentary I am"Facing my own death brought an instant sense of clarity and purpose," he says in his film. "If I was, indeed, going to die, I asked myself: What did I want to say before I went? It became very simple and very clear. I wanted to tell people what I had come to know. And what I had come to know was that the world I was living in was a lie."

While going through his journey, he made huge changes to his life.  He said on Oprah, "[We have] a very extrinsic model of success.  You have to have a certain job status, a certain amount of wealth. ... I think true success is intrinsic. ... It's love. It's kindness. It's community."  He moved out of the mansion and into a mobile home, bikes to get where he needs to go rather than drive when possible and flies just like you or I would instead of chartering his own jets.  Basically, he found what was of value to him, what he needed and met himself at his needs.  Nothing more and nothing less.

One thing in particular that he said on Oprah struck a true chord in me.  In I Am, Tom says, "There's one fundamental law that all of nature obeys that mankind breaks every day. Now, this is a law that's evolved over billions of years, and the law is this: Nothing in nature takes more than it needs."  He goes on to say "We have a term for something in the body when it takes more than its share.  We call it cancer."

I know that I don't want to be a part of that cancer.

I haven't mentioned this before, but we will be having the opportunity to move at the beginning of the summer and we are starting to figure out what we need, what we want and what we don't want in this big change in our lives.  With the addition of a new little one, we can no longer put it off.  

But with this amazing and exciting and necessary change and new adventure, comes the possibility in biting off more than we can chew.  Taking more than we need simply because its different than what we've had... and I don't want to do that.  I want to be mindful of our needs and meet them.  Nothing more and nothing less.  I want to truly use, find beauty and true, authentic joy in what we have rather than having more for the sake of more.  Because at the end of the day, I have always found more fulfillment, peace and authenticity in the simpleness of life.  The moments rather than the material goods and the feelings that I have and share with my family and friends.  Life is enough.  Love is enough.  Family is enough.  Friends are enough.  Moments and adventures are enough.  At the end of the day, I think if you have those things and the basic necessities of life (food, water, clothing, shelter) then you have what you truly need.  And I don't want to lose sight of that.


  1. We are so much alike! I am still purging and decluttering from all the "things" I thought I needed or were cheap or free. I love simple. I am striving for simple.

    I haven't done much of anything to our new house yet b/c I'm afraid to clutter it up, ha!

    Good luck on house hunting and making the move, I hope you find the perfect place (if you haven't already!).

    I have a new blog too, check it out! :)

  2. I agree. hey, do I get a change of address ;)
    Love ya!!! miss you much