women of a certain age are like sunflowers; they know how to turn their faces to the sun.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Enough


"Want is a growing giant whom the coat of Have was never large enough to cover."

-Ralph Waldo Emerson

This week, I have been pondering the phrase, "Enough is enough."

On the surface, that phrase could not be simpler - noun, verb, adjective.

But, like most oversimplifications, it provides impetus to some very interesting questions:

How do we determine enough? Is it a line drawn in the sand: over here I am wanting, but on the other side I am replete? Or is it more like the slow transition of color found in a skein of Noro yarn: a subtle shift so gradual that it does not register as such until we arrive at a new paradigm, turn around and wonder how we got here?

Do we always know when we have reached "enough?" Or, like our stomachs, do we need a brief period to register fullness?

If enough is enough, then is too much of a good thing...

Wonderful? Bad? Or something in between?

And who determines precisely how much we need, versus how much we want? Ourselves? Our families? Our government? (God forbid...) Our faith?

When is "enough" enough?

************

A few years back, my friend Greg and I had an interesting discussion pursuant to the book we were working on at the time. He posited that every one of us is prone to one of the seven deadly sins more than the other six.

For those not up to date on their vices, the "seven deadlys" read as follows:

  • Lust
  • Gluttony
  • Greed
  • Sloth
  • Wrath,
  • Envy
  • Pride

After some careful
l consideration, I determined that "my" sin was gluttony. And not the kind that sends so many into eating disorders. No, mine was a more generalized gluttony.

  • The kind that stockpiles toilet paper, just in case...
  • The kind that buys two pairs of jeans instead of one, because they might stop making the ones that fit me...
  • The kind that collects enough sock yarn to properly clothe the sixth regiment...
  • The kind that has over 20 designs in process (Hmmm... DIPs, as opposed to WIPs... how appropriate...)
  • The kind that orders two scoops instead of one...
  • The kind that will throw herself under a train for a friend, but forget to return a phone call...
  • The kind that will stay up all night to finish a project or a book...
  • The kind that burns the house down around her, while she focuses single-mindedly, obsessively and above all, exclusively, on the task at hand...
  • The kind that doesn't know how to say, "enough" and doesn't know the meaning of the word, "moderation"...

My life is a constant struggle: for balance, for perspective, for the ability to say...

Enough.

And move on.

************

This week, two of my friends have experienced issues with sufficiency. Kim has been dyeing noon and night to keep up with the demand for kits of MD/AN. So what do I do? I design a scarf and send her more business. Not that she isn't happy for it; she is.

But she went into this (at my instigation, I might add) before she had enough (yarn). And then, in the blink of an eye, or the click of a mouse, she had too much (orders) and it wasn't always wonderful. So she put on the brakes for a few days this week, shutting down the Woolen Rabbit until supply could catch up with demand.

Enough was enough. And she knew when and how and why she reached that point. All things in moderation... I admire her for knowing when she had reached that point. There is more to life than yarn, after all.

(Wait a minute; forget I said that; don't want to be burned at the stake flogged with turbo needles for heresy)

Kim's slow-down allowed me time to take a deep breath as well. I have been working 14 hour days recently, neglecting much of the rest of my life in the process.

Whoops! There's that gluttony things rearing its ugly (to say nothing of overstuffed) head again: If one is good, then two is better, and three would be best of all...

In a few days, balance will be restored, minds and hands will be rested, and we will both be better able to meet the needs and challenges of our chosen calling.

Consider it a brief sabbatical. We will be back shortly...

Others are not so lucky.

Ravelry, and the world in general, lost someone last week: 56 years old, to an aneurysm, which came on, by all accounts, both suddenly and unexpectedly. (AZ knitter) Trish's death seems to have touched so many people, especially my new friend Vi who has struggled mightily this week to make some sort of sense from the senseless.

While never having met Trish, I had exchanged private messages with her. She was a member of our KAL and was looking forward to the publication of Magic Carpet, so she could start with something smaller. One day, she was asking me questions; the next day, she was gone.

And though I have experienced the loss second hand, I find I have been deeply moved by her passing, and the way it has destabilized what seemed like security, and safety, and assurance that the world would unfold according to our plan.

It is not necessarily a bad thing to realize our finite state and own up to our powerlessness. After all, that is how we come to faith. If we did not need, perhaps we would not want.

But, when this knowledge comes at the cost of a friend, a wife, a mother, we wind up in the shadows, asking, "Why?"

  • "Why her?"
  • "Why here?"
  • "Why now?"

As with all sudden losses, she left us wanting more.

  • More laughter
  • More love
  • More friendship
  • More joy
  • More hope
  • More faith


Just...

More...

Because sometimes
, there is no such thing as "enough."

12 comments:

ChristyH said...

We would not feel our loss so acutely, if we did not feel so strongly to begin with. Diamonds would not be so precious if they were lying on the ground every where.

Christy, the spicy Christian, who left many words unspoken

Knitting Therapy said...

How do we find that place in our life when all we experience is contentment, when we are satisfied and recognize the abundance of our blessings. I have struggled with that for many years.

Also, is there something about yarn fumes that trigger gluttony. I will buy one more skein of yarn even though I will never possibly knit all I have, or start another shawl because it sings to me, even though I have 3 on the needles!

The quandaries of life- never to be answered.

I know this was a serious post filled with the emotion of a lost friend but I do want to share a grin with you. DD googled the 7 deadly sins this week and found this website:
http://www.sciencebase.com/images/seven-deadly-sins.jpg.

Kristy said...

What a lovely tribute!

GailR said...

You continually exceed yourself in designs and words that comfort and challenge others to think, to learn and to believe.

Donna Lee said...

There are a lot of times in my life when I realize that I indeed have enough. I have everything I really need and am learning to find contentment with that. When someone dies unexpectedly, it makes me stop and think and reevaluate what I think I need and what I really do need. And how much I give versus how much I take. As long as I feel like I am giving at least as much as I take, my karma is balanced and I feel peace.

chrispy said...

What a lovely tribute!

I do understand your kind of gluttony. I learned my limit a few years ago. I have tons of DIPs on paper but I can't allow them to come forward too fast or I lose it. I get hyper focused a lot of the time, since I am ADHD. I love it at times and hate it. I do have to say your list of gluttony seems like a list of ADD symptoms.

Kim said...

It has taken me many years to listen to that inner voice that tells me when enough is enough. As I have gotten older, I realize more and more how important balance is.

I find that when my life swings too far in one direction, I need to find a way to bring myself back to the center. This journey has not always easy, but I am getting better at it.

I have suffered many painful and personal losses over the years and many times I think that those losses help us to have strength and prospective in what is important in life and what just is not.

Dove Knits said...

I've not met Trish, but we were on a forum together, even though I don't think I've interacted with her. I was very sad to hear about her passing.

I understand EXACTLY what you mean. I am a glutton in the exact same way. Everything is all or nothing.

Rachel said...

Your post struck a chord with me...and as usual, you have put in words something that I think about often and struggle with on a daily basis. Balance and the struggle to reach it. I wonder when I'll be able to say enough is enough and achieve that ever elusive state of being? In the meantime, it's helpful to hear/read words like you wrote in this post. Thanks for that.

Lucia said...

I didn't know Trish; I wish our paths had crossed. I always think there's time. Sometimes I'm wrong.

I think nature has hard-wired us for most of the deadly sins: how would humans (or any other species) have survived hard winters without gluttony and greed, or at all without lust? Trouble is, once something is hard-wired, it stays that way even when circumstances change; we don't rationally look around and say "oh, I'm warm and well-fed, I have everything I need, I don't need to be grabby or cheap." Same thing with food: because our bodies need small amounts of salt, sugar and fat, which in a state of nature are hard to come by, we're hard-wired to crave them even when they're the cheapest things in the supermarket.

I think my besetting sin is probably envy. It was pretty easy to pick out: I just looked down the list and asked myself which one I least wanted to admit to. Sigh. Working on it. Like everyone else.

Kristina B said...

I had put a lengthy comment on here before which didn't take... sigh. Such is blogger!

Suffice it to say:

You seem to hit a chord with many people, Susan.

I'm glad you and Kim are taking a break. And reading this post inspired me in going to a job interview today and answering a question about what I expect from the (non-profit) workplace. My answer was "quality of life, and respect of people's outside interests... which will lead to better work performance on the job".

It's probably much harder as full-time crafters to get that distance.. but still necessary :-)

Cheers.

Kristina

Kristina B said...

PS Susan: I came across this article yesterday and was reminded for some reason of this post, and of some of the ethic I've read on this blog - although you may see no connection. It details a man's account of being struck by serious illness and recovering in a series of vignettes - some humourous, some poignant, some self-pitying. He is a lawyer in Ottawa and I have seen him speak at conferences (not on this topic - on plain writing for lawyers). Anyway, you might wish to have a look:

http://supremecourtlaw.ca/english/profile_personal16.html