What a word. Even the dictionary definition confuses me: “as much as required.” How much is that? I must admit that in college my fellow secondary education majors and I would tease our friends majoring in elementary education since in classes we shared they seemed to raise their hands nervously to ask for clarification on assignments. “And how long exactly is the paper supposed to be?” “Is this right? Exactly what you had in mind and expected, dear teacher?” they would say.
We laughed and thought of ourselves as superior and less concerned about following rules just to follow rules and more into demonstrating our knowledge of the subject. Wasn’t that what any good teacher should be after anyway?, we thought smugly.
Here I am now, mulling over that same question: how much is enough? How many hours should I devote to Peace Corps projects each day? How many to exercise? How many boxes do I need to check on my VRF (a quarterly report we volunteers send to headquarters) to feel that I am doing enough?
How many lives have I touched in Paraguay – is it enough? Is my Spanish ability good – enough?
Of course the question of enough is not saved for volunteers; it affects us all. There is always more that could be done. There are more committees to join or books to read or activities to sign the kids up for. There is certainly more good that could be done in the world. There’s more I could learn about every subject that interests me (and every one that doesn’t).
On one hand, this can all be great, exciting motivation. Rise and shine, there’s good work to be done! On the other, it can be exhausting to race after a carrot that moves further away just as you’re about to finally reach your sweet reward, whispering that there’s more to do.
So are we doomed to feeling like we never measure up? That at the end of each day, we still fall short of the nebulous line of enough? People say if you “give it your all” you have nothing to regret, but what truly is my all? I’m suspicious if I’ve ever really gone there.
How can we all accept that while there will always be more, we are already enough?
An image spinning through my head is one of me stopping chasing after that carrot (the same darn carrot I’ve been trailing for years). I stop, catch my breath and slowly look around and realize I’m in the most amazing orchard surrounded by trees: orange, apple, peach, avocado. There are flowers too and it’s beautiful and romantically hazy, like a cheesy dream sequence in a movie. I glance up and through rays of sun I see my old carrot friend disappear over the horizon.
I grab an apple and eat it straight from the tree and forget why I wanted that carrot so badly anyway. Without the chase, the world doesn’t end. My life goes on. I still work hard and do good work. I stay involved in efforts that interest me. But I’m not putting my effort into the chase. I’m not hanging my head in defeat based on not reaching some make-believe point of enough that was in my mind. Because that’s the only place it was this whole time anyway.
Now it’s your turn. What’s your definition of enough? How do you keep it in check in your life? Anyone else hungry for carrots and hummus? (Just have to catch ’em first.)