Sunday, March 23, 2014

Tools for the Journey #34 - Enough


e·nough

1. pronoun: as much or as many as required.
    synonyms: sufficient, plenty, a sufficient amount, an adequate amount, as much as   necessary;  a sufficiency, an ample supply; one’s fill; there’s enough for everyone.

2. adverb: to the required degree or extent (used after an adjective, adverb, or verb); adequately. 

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I've spent a lot of time (or perhaps 'just enough' time) pondering the concept of enough. How much is enough? What determines when we have enough?  In our consumption-based society the messages we get everyday from the media are we do not have 'enough' and should go out and buy more. There is a scarcity mentality rather than a gratitude mentality and this perpetuates the sense of needing more. As consumers this is bad enough, but for our souls this is far worse. How many of us can truthfully look ourselves in the eye and say, 'You are enough" and believe it? If we can't do this then how can we help our children see themselves as enough in a world telling them daily on television that they are not thin enough or beautiful enough or smart enough or rich enough?

Recently I had the blessing of reconnecting with an old friend I hadn't seen in many years. Tom A. is the person who 26 years ago gave me the gift of 'enough'. His perspective about ’enough’ became an important navigational tool for me on my life-journey and his words have echoed in my head and heart all these years especially during times when I found myself in the trap of not believing I had enough. In many ways his words became my True North on the topic of 'enough'.

When I met Tom A. he was a mountain-man living completely off the grid in Colorado. He quietly embraced his minimalist lifestyle un-apologetically and he was a master of how to live lightly upon the earth. He was conscious of his carbon footprint before most of us knew what a carbon footprint was. He was the first person I'd ever met who was wholly content with exactly what he had and he lived each day as completely 'enough'.

Tom showed me enough. How to see enough, how to live enough and that I was enough exactly as I was with nothing missing. Before I met Tom no one had ever told me I was enough just the way I was, but he did and it changed my life.

We sat under the stars on the side of his mountain and he spoke words far wiser than might be expected from the mouth of one so young (he was 29 years old at the time). He spoke softly and without judgment or malice about what it means to live with enough and to be 'enough'. Those conversations impacted me more than he ever knew and only now, 26 years later have I had the chance to express my gratitude for his generosity of spirit with me back then.

Today I'm happy to report Tom has withstood the test of time. He continues to live his credo and has stayed true to his life-stance of choosing to reside in a place of 'enough'. He is still a mountain-man (albeit living on a different mountain) and his carbon footprint remains ever so light upon the earth. He continues to live by example and chooses to dwell in a place where what he has is completely enough.

He is still articulate in his quiet way and my conversations with him now are as provocative as they were back then. He still challenges me to be a larger, more awake version of myself. His world-view is bold and lucid and well considered though certainly not popular with those more comfortable in the mainstream.

His focus and outlook is more...panoramic, if you will. His quest seems to be how we can find a way to be content with what we have and also serve the larger common good rather than just continuing to accumulate more and more stuff. He abhors the perpetual quest for more stuff because it weighs us down and misses the point; thus making our lives smaller and less than they might be. Perhaps his message is that 'less is enough' and his life is a shining example of how richly textured and beautiful residing in a place of 'enough' can be.

The miracles of this life rarely happen in huge, flashy moments; they more often occur in the tiny, nearly invisible moments which are far too easily missed. Tom's gift to me - the miracle of helping me develop the eyes to truly be able to see and experience what I have as enough (and who I am as enough) was one of those tiny miracle-moments which happened on the side of a mountain in starlight. It was a gift quietly and humbly given without strings attached by a stunningly beautiful human being and it impacted my life in ways I find difficult to adequately articulate.

I don't hold Tom on a pedestal - he is entirely human. He's as fallible and fragile as the rest of us and I would not dishonor him with a pedestal. No, I place him right where he should be - on rock-solid ground in all his humanness. Yet even so, he is a samurai of enough. He is still wise beyond his years and one of the best people I’ve ever been blessed enough to call my friend. His friendship is one of the most important of my life and his unselfish willingness to sing me awake has meant the world to me…but I must admit the gift of his love and his friendship is more than enough and more than I’d ever have asked.

In-Joy and gratitude,
Cheryl


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