Wednesday, March 3, 2021

WEDNESDAY WISDOM: Enough for Everyone




“A man's life consists not in the abundance of the things which he possesses."  St. Luke 12:15



The question of “enough” permeates our culture. My generation came of age with Mick Jagger’s raspy voice telling us (wink, wink) that you can’t get no satisfaction from “how white your shirts can be,” by smoking “the same cigarettes as me,” or by getting plenty of “girlie action.”

Sadly, that message encouraged lots of Baby Boomers to seek fulfillment the Rolling Stones’ way. Eventually, though, they discovered that even if you catch it, you won’t find satisfaction if you’re chasing the wrong scent in the pursuit of happiness. It just won’t be “enough.” They learned too late that there is never “enough” in the accumulation of transitory pleasures or material possessions. The truth is that “you can never get enough of what you don’t need, because what you don’t need won’t satisfy you.” Dallin Oaks.

It’s never been about how much we own. The ancient Greek philosopher Epicurus summed it up eloquently: “Not what we have but what we enjoy, constitutes our abundance.” A few years ago, Sheryl Crow translated this centuries-old wisdom into clever rock and roll lyrics.

I don't have digital;

I don't have diddly squat.

It's not having what you want;

It's wanting what you've got.

In a similar way, many of my generation have found by sad experience that we don’t find “enough” by competing with and comparing ourselves to others. Comparing another’s possessions, another’s relationships, even another’s life, with ours invariably gets in the way of enjoying and appreciating our own.

As long as the focus is comparative and the answer is relative, we will never have enough. There will always be another with more. There will always be someone with a bigger, a faster, a newer, a more expensive, a more glamorous, a more exotic . . . whatever.

When it comes to what’s most important, life is not a zero-sum game. There are no quotas or limits to the things that matter most. My joy and happiness do not take away from yours, and your joy and happiness do not take away from mine. Whatever wisdom and understanding I may have does not limit yours.  My peace and contentment do not diminish yours, nor do yours diminish mine.

No people on the face of the planet or in the history of the world have ever come close to having as much as do we 21st Century Americans.  One of the dangers of our unprecedented technology and material wealth is that it can blind us to the real abundance in our lives. Too much “stuff” gets in the way of recognizing and enjoying greater treasures.

I have learned that when we are able to see further than physical possessions and earthly advantages, we can comprehend that our abundance is truly beyond measure and potentially infinite. We have enough, and to spare.

Michael Beckwith once spoke of a virus even more insidious than Covid-19:

"There is a lie that acts like a virus within the mind of humanity. And that lie is, ‘There’s not enough good to go around. There’s lack and there’s limitation and there’s just not enough.’ The truth is that there’s more than enough good to go around. There are more than enough creative ideas.  . . . There is more than enough love. There’s more than enough joy. There is enough for everyone."

May we be inoculated against this virus, and thus recognize the abundance that surrounds us. May we see that, indeed, we have “enough.”

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