I feel like there are two conflicting messages floating out there in Spiritualist Land: 1) You shouldn’t need stuff to be happy, and 2) There is unlimited stuff to be had and you’re entitled to every bit you can get.
#1 is about Buddhist non-attachment, that we create our own unhappiness by *wanting* something other than what we have – that true happiness can be attained by simply learning to love and accept what you have.
The trouble is, what if you don’t have enough?
“Enough” is a moving target. It’s different for everyone, and it shifts depending on our life circumstances, our needs in the context of our life. When I was 19, I was living off of $600 a month. I was sharing an apartment with a friend and adopted Leo, my first cat. I was happy. I had enough.
It was enough until my roommate threw a mushroom party without giving me advance notice. Then I needed my own place. I needed my own door that locked.
I changed jobs, started making a few hundred more a month, and moved down the road into my own 1 bedroom attic. For the first time in my life, people needed permission to be in my space. I even had a few pieces of furniture. That was enough for a while.
“Enough” shifts. For me, “enough” is about safety and opportunity for enjoyment in life. Safety breaks down into “enough” income and privacy. When I don’t have enough safety, I can’t be productive. I can’t do my best work. I’m in survival mode. Having the opportunity to rise above survival mode is an incredible gift!
So much has changed in the last few weeks and months. Hell, looking back on the last 10 years of my life has seen white-water rapid change. Are my feet finally on solid ground now? Have I reached this mythical island called Enough?
I love our new house. It’s so quiet. It’s HUGE! It feels like a real home. I feel safe there – so safe, I’m hesitant to leave the house, ever! I just want to sit in my kitchen, writing and drinking coffee, or cooking and chatting with Sweetie. Or I want to sit in my office, working with clients, plotting my class and podcasts. OR, and this is the best one, I want to hang out in bed – our big, comfortable bed that’s off the floor, that has bedside lamps and enough storage space to contain all our clothing.
I would never want to live in a tiny house. That’s not enough for me.
When Sweetie & I moved out to the coast in 2009, we bought very little with us. No furniture, just a laptop computer, a few Rubbermaid bins of kitchen accessories, and our four pets. We travelled almost 5,000 km by train from Toronto to Vancouver, then drove out to Ucluelet with a rented truck. We had very little in terms of “stuff”. We moved into a bachelor cabin for six months and barely made a dent in the place.
Sure we can adapt, and “enough” is a moving target. If I was homeless, a tiny house would be heaven on earth. But for the me I am right now (see what I did there?) enough is the sweet spot between what I need to do what I want, and what I have. When those things line up, God, life is good.
The flip side of Enough – the blindingly shiny side of the coin – is the abundance philosophy. I haven’t quite figured this out yet. There are great things about the *ideas* of creating immense positive expansion through leveraging your earning potential and building personal financial wealth. There’s freedom and enormous creative possibility! Just look at a well-backed self-published book launch, or a high-profile concert or art show! Money is energy you can use to power your creations!
The thing is, I’ve noticed that a lot of people *selling* the idea of wealthy abundance don’t have the energy of calm, peaceful enough-ness. So, I kinda don’t believe them! People who have calm, peaceful wealth aren’t on facebook constantly sharing quotes from The Secret. They’re not trying to sell me their secret to life. No, they’re quietly and generously supporting the good things in the world.
I think that’s my definition of wealth. Enough is when you have what you need to feel safe, do your work with the support you need, and to do the things that make you happy and balanced. Wealth grows from enough, and it’s not simply money. How many financially wealthy people make sacrifices that are too steep, which impact their feeling of “enough”? Surplus money but deficit family / vacation time? I’ve burned out enough times to know that money can’t buy your way out of adrenal fatigue.
Enough can’t just be about financial security, it’s about moving with that shifting target.
I’ve heard a few women declare that work / life balance is impossible to achieve. Nothing in life is about balance, and a great way to accelerate change is to create IMBALANCE in your life.
I guess that’s one way of accomplishing things. It’s liberating for some people to give themselves permission to focus intensely on a project to the exclusion of all other things. Some people do their best work that way! Maybe that’s their “enough”! Enough time to start this new thing – they need ALL of the time!
Personally, I need that balance. It’s hard to live on a swinging pendulum. I like my nest, I like my work-life balance. I love having enough. Big enough, quiet enough, safe enough. I am wealthy with enough-ness right now. I feel like a boat that’s weathered more than a few ocean storms, who has finally made the safe harbour and is moored in peace.
We’ll do repairs, we’ll stock up, and at some point, we’ll head out again.