Saturday, November 27, 2010
When do we know when we have enough? “Enough what?” you ask. “Enough of anything,” I reply.
How much is enough when you sit down to eat? How do you know when you have enough clothing, shoes, office supplies, words?
How does a person limit herself to having just enough of something before possessions flow over into the way-too-much category?
We’re sliding through the final days of the annual Thanksgiving experience. We should be able to answer this simple question before moving on toward Christmas.
If you move around as much as Sister and I, you would totally understand why this subject is critical to us now. We have both been sentimental collectors of things since forever--each for similar, and yet, different reasons.
We’ve both lived with abundance. We’ve both known times when enough was only what we could carry in our arms. For the last nearly fifteen years, we’ve also known what it’s like to have an annual purge of possessions because we’d collected too much of nearly everything.
Until we began planning this trip around the country, however, we had never learned the lesson of enough more completely. If someone loses their home to disaster--of whatever variety--the reality of what is necessary vs. what is luxury seldom weighs in. That we are creating--in a very limited sense--our own loss of home makes for interesting revelations.
We’ve come to truly appreciate the meaning of limitations regarding necessary possessions for living. Any good Hindi would laugh at us for this tardy understanding. That philosophy teaches to only concern oneself with meeting personal daily physical needs. For the average American, that’s a philosophical challenge of enormous proportions, sometimes on more than one front. For sentimental collectors like us, it goes beyond that.
How many clothes does one take on the road for year or more? How does one limit kitchen supplies when a love of cooking is rooted in your soul? Do campers really need at least one dress outfit on the road? Remember, there won’t be irons handy.
Necessities must come first. The rest is luxury. Our necessities: shelter, food, clothing, transportation, photography equipment, computer with extra drives, minimum writing materials, and an adventurous spirit.
We have all that. Everything else stays behind.
That’s where limitations come in. The purge has begun of possessions we’ve not used since we’ve been in Montana. Some things have been with us for many years and survived many moves across the country. No longer.
This whittling process for the trip and its look into needs vs. wants has shown us where our lives need to focus. And that focus isn’t on possessions any longer.
Our pot-latch will be the talk of the apartment complex. We have furniture, kitchen ware, assorted decorating goodies, you name it--even small appliances. Our storage garage awaits its own purge to allow an accommodation of its new contents.
Our Thanksgiving is winding down with a true appreciation for all things achieved this year. We’ve finally learned the limitations we must live by for the next year and are grateful for them. We’ve also learned, in a personal sense, how perception shifts with understanding and why limitation can be a person’s best friend.
So, I ask you again. What limitations have you put on yourself and are they friend or foe? If they don’t allow for understanding, purpose, and expression, they have joined the enemy. (As Bill Cosby would say, “Sort of like tonsils when they go bad.”)
If those limitations keep you growing, learning, striving, they could be your best friends. It’s up to you to decide.
Do you have enough?