I’ve been thinking about this for a few weeks, but whenever I considered concrete action…well…this is my first move towards action. As I considered my eating habits, and my exercise (non)habit, and all the issues swirling around the general area of my life involving self-discipline and making good choices (money and time are connected here, too), I hit on two words that I want to explore: enough and delight. I’m not putting them together in a phrase–they’re separate. That’s important.
Tonight, I’m starting to think about Enough. Here are some contexts I think of related to enough:
- Parents/adults telling me that I’ve had or done enough–it’s time to stop, possibly with an undertone of “you’ve had/done too much,” judgmental—and my internal voice is worse about summoning that judgement than any external force has ever been.
- The corollary: me telling my kids they’ve had enough–enough treat, enough time to play at the park, enough mess or noise. Again, it was a judgement or a stopping of something that was (probably) fun or enjoyable, and probably said sharply.
- People, including me, at the table at the end of a meal after having overindulged, saying that we didn’t want more, we’d had enough, really meaning we’d had too much, maybe way too much.
- Contexts where I felt as if I didn’t have enough–money, time, attention, affection, space (money is the big one–and there have been times, not recently, where I truly didn’t have enough. I know the difference, which doesn’t stop the mental clenching when I feel that way).
- The way I feel when I stop at enough, before I hit more than enough, especially with food. This is the first positive connotation I’ve listed of the word.
- Knowing that even though my kids didn’t have some “regular” things that others had growing up, they had enough–they always had clothes, food, transportation, and–I hope they feel this way–love and attention.
- Loving playing music and participating in music, but being told (and knowing by comparison) that I wasn’t good enough.
- Since I starting drinking occasionally, learning the difference between “enough,” “not enough,” and “too much. Coming from a teetotaling tradition, that’s an interesting lesson.
- Truth: I almost never feel as if I’ve had enough pepsi. It’s a rare day when I couldn’t have a bit more
- Frustration with behavior and finally getting to the point where I draw a line and say “that’s enough”–when in reality, I should have drawn the line much, much sooner. And that’s true in multiple contexts, including but not limited to my classroom. I’m not sure that this is a positive one, either–for me to get to that point, I feel ineffectual and helpless, and saying that doesn’t usually change the behavior or situation; it simply means I’m washing my hands of dealing with it. It’s not drawing a line out of strength.
Based on all these, with only a few that have positive undertones, this is not a word that makes me smile. It’s not a warn fuzzy word, although it can be a polite one (“No, thanks–really. I’ve had enough.”) But there are two stories about it that make me believe I need to embrace “Enough” . One is an internet parable about an elderly person at an airport, hugging her daughter good bye, saying “May you have enough.” It’s sappy and emotionally manipulative–not my type of story, And it hit me. That’s what got me thinking about the word Enough.
And in my Quaker readings and some of the Green Party lit, the continued emphasis that there is plenty for everyone if people choose to simply have enough, not hoarding or greedy. This frames “enough” as a good goal, a fine thing. Stop before getting to the “enough” of Thanksgiving, with unbuttoned jeans and bloated insides.
So I’ve written enough for tonight. There’s more to say, more to think about, but this is a good stopping place. Enough, with a side of peace…and yawns.