Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Thoughts on "enough"

I'm home from New Haven content, replete, thankful, grateful, sentimental, satisfied. The trip was so great that, as I admired the sunrise yesterday en route to Hartford, I was thinking as I often do these days: "I've gotten enough in this life. If I don't get more, it's ok."

Only partially as a joke, I used to determine the point in a vacation or a project when the quantity of fun had justified the expenses, or when there had been enough sunny days at the beach that if it rained the rest of the time, it would be ok. "From this point on, I'm in the black." Isn't this also known as, "everything else is gravy?"

I just googled "everything else is gravy" and this lovely page on kids and money popped up:, from a seminar called "How to Gimme-Proof Your Kids." I'm going back to that site after I post this!

Update: References to other things people find gravy superfluous to can be found here...

That's not to say there won't be things I hanker for, or that I won't still suffer kiasu from time to time. But I'm able to remember, these days, that of the good things people can hope to experience, I've experienced a great many.

I've loved, and been loved, and laughed a lot, I've had miraculous successes. I've gotten grouchy teenagers to sing loud Croatian music with enthusiasm! I've taught life-long non-singers to sing!

I've raised two wonderful children who love music and have my sense of humor and make me choke with laughter. I've seen whales do tricks in the ocean and I've seen a snapping turtle, truly and really as tall as the hem of my shorts, walk majestically across the road while ignoring completely the two church ladies who were whacking at it with rolled up newspapers.

I built a brick patio with my own hands, after getting to show the guy who shoveled sand for me how to use a Spanish/English dictionary. (He then sat on the porch and read it, completely absorbed, through his whole lunch hour.)

I've cried for joy almost as often as I've cried out of sorrow.

When I was little I used to cry at night because I was so afraid of dying. My mom said: "you're upset because you haven't gotten to do enough things yet. When you're old you'll have done a lot of things and it won't seem so terrible." That was one of the smartest things she ever said.

And now, I've outlived her (she died at 50 of booze and cigarettes), and so I was able to go see Melina conduct a huge choir of women singing like lusty angels; smoothly organize our huge sing-and-schmooze weekend; send all those women home, from the youngest to the oldest, happy and thinking deep thoughts! All the while smoothing her boyfriend's ruffled feathers and letting her mom crash on her floor!

The other side of this coin is accepting misfortune. In some ways, it's easier. When a beach sheriff busted me for speeding a few years ago, I thought: since I've been speeding for years, this ticket, amortized, is actually quite reasonable.

And even when eight trees fell on my house in Hurricane Fran and smashed the roof to pieces, I thought: well, this is the first time ANY trees have fallen on my house, so as a lifetime supply, I suppose eight trees is not such an excessive number. (If another hurricane dumps another eight trees on me, that's a different story.)

Current challenges: to enjoy non-repeatable moments without being paralyzed by pre-need nostalgia. To enjoy something without eulogizing it. To welcome people into my life, enjoy them for whatever time there is, and then say goodbye with generosity and without pain, grateful for the happy moments and not being regretful if there aren't more. Down with kiasu.

I'm nowhere near done with this topic...

PS: when I haltingly described this philosophy to a friend a few years ago, she said it was such a bummer and a downer she didn't ever want to hear any such thing ever again. That still surprises me. What do you think?

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At 8:31 AM, Blogger Isabella said...

I think you're on to something (and your mom was too). Being in the moment without concern for the memory the moment will make. Not to pursue specific moments merely to scratch them off a to-do list.

("lusty angels" — I love that!)

At 8:53 PM, Blogger The Science Goddess said...

This reminds me of "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind," which I saw for the first time this past weekend. Jim Carrey's character finally figures out that when he's "erasing" his memories of Clementine, that he won't just lose the bad memories he has of her. He'll lose all the wonderful ones, too. In some ways, it was a so-so movie, but "the moral of the story" did give me something to think about over the last few days.


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