Posted on January 14th, 2012
I’m convinced that a successful life is largely driven by balance and moderation. Not too much of anything. Not too little, either.
More is easy. Our natural proclivity is to have just a bit more. Our society reinforces this idea. More means safety. More means security. With more, you will never be hungry. You will always be just a bit full. Because more means you don’t have to fear less.
Fear of less drives us to more.
Less is never good. Less will leave you stranded. Less will catch you with your guard down. Less will let you down when you need it most. Less does not satisfy. Less only leaves you wanting more.
Less is never Enough.
Less is not more any more than more is less, more or less. It is only when we reduce more or increase less so as to satisfy our needs and desires that Enough can be found.
Enough is a very personal metric. Like our center of gravity, each of us must find what is enough by swaying from less to more until a comfortable medium is found.
My daughter takes classes at a European-style circus arts school. It’s a pretty amazing place. They teach and train children, starting at age two, how to perform all manner of classic circus acts. German wheel, trapeze, triple trap, side-by-side, silks, Spanish web, etc. Think of Cirque du Soleil but with kids and you have the idea.
Recently, in class, she was learning how to walk the wire. As I watched her, it began to occur to me that this was the perfect metaphor for what I believe the idea of Enough is, and how to discover it.
We all have a center of balance that is unique, different from everyone else. My center of balance is different from yours. My daughter’s, from mine. As she walks the wire, hands out, wobbling to and fro, this is what she is in search of. As she gets older, this process might become easier, faster, with less wobble, but it will never end. No matter how good she becomes, she will always need some device to assist her — arms stretched, a long pole, a racquet or fan. Even the Flying Wallendas, perhaps the greatest wire act to ever perform and a family team stretching back 10 generations, still wobble and use devices to maintain their balance.
Why is this? Well, because the conditions are constantly changing. Changing in ways that we never really even think of. Here are just a few:
- The tension of the wire is never exactly the same each time. It is adjusted and set by human beings, after all.
- Wind, as one can imagine, is a factor. Even a slight breeze can make a difference.
- Is there a crowd? Well, applause and other loud noises cause vibrations in the wire.
As you can see, there are many unseen and rarely considered things that can affect one who is walking the wire. Those are just a few of them. These changes require frequent adjustment. And this is outside of the fact that, even if nothing on the wire changed, even the most seasoned wire walkers would still need to make constant slight adjustments to maintain balance, both physical and mental.
So it is with the idea of Enough. What is enough for you will be different from what is Enough for me. Also, what is Enough for each of us will change with changing conditions. If I’m really hungry, an apple will likely not be Enough for me. If I have just eaten a full meal with dessert, an apple will be too much. The goal is to find the sweet spot, the center of balance, that allows one to have enough of what one needs when one needs it. But even this will change and requires constant adjustment and re-evaluation as the conditions change. Just like balancing on the wire.
Enough comes from trying things out. It comes from challenging your preconceptions. It comes from having less, trying more, then reducing to find out what is just right. It comes from letting go of your fear of less. It comes from letting go of the false security of more. It also comes from having more, losing it all, and finding out what need really is.
Enough is hard work.
To get there, one must let go of what-ifs, conjecture, assumptions, guesses, and half-truths. One must overcome fear, gluttony, self-doubt, and thoughts of grandeur. One must ask hard questions to find harder answers.
One must let go of those fears that aim to knock us off balance and send us running towards more or less.
It comes from being forever curious. It comes from asking questions.
How can this be easier?
Can I be satisfied with less?
How much do I really need?
What if I did not have this?
What is the worst that could happen (and is that so bad)?
Is there a better way?
Is this enough for me?
Do I have what I need?
Would having more make it easier?
Would having less make it easier?
What is too much and how do I know when it is?
All of these questions and more will help you discover the answer to what constitutes enough for you. But, please keep in mind, even that changes. Just as the wire walker must make slight adjustments to constantly changing conditions, so must you.
The goal, then, is not to find what is, or will be, Enough forever. That is impossible. The goal is to discover the tools and strategies you need to find what is Enough for you right now and provide the flexibility to adjust as the conditions change.
It is my hope that these essays will help you in reaching such a goal.