When Will Enough Be Enough?
I was thinking about a conversation I had with my friends Phil and Janet this past Spring; two wise people I consider family of choice.
I have known them since the 80’s. Phil is my son Adam’s unofficial Big Brother and go-to guy for all kinds of things, from business to personal matters. On that day, they were my go-to folks for helping me to work through some entrenched beliefs and behaviors that don’t serve me.
They helped me find a path I would choose to take through life.
Both of them have sturdy bullshit detectors and laser sharp instincts for cutting through it. They have been through so much in their lifetimes that have helped them to hone those skills. It is to them that I turn when I want no nonsense answers to my concerns.
We were excavating the rubble and rock pile that has built up over the years that represent my fears of never being able to be enough or do enough. I push and rush, rather than rest and coast. Phil pointed out that when I leave voice mail messages, I fill in way too many details as if attempting to prove that I am busy and successful. Janet shared that when I speak, she gets tired, since I rattle things off so quickly as if to say as much as I can in as short a time as possible and sound like I can’t catch my breath. I told her that comes from my discomfort with taking up too much time and yet, paradoxically, I love being center stage. Janet nodded knowingly, since she too is a performer (actor, dancer and mime).
She said, “I have a word for you to remember; Dayenu.” I smiled and agreed. In Hebrew, it translates to “enough” and is part of the Passover Seder. It references the idea that, had God freed the Jews from slavery in Egypt, it would have been sufficient. and had God fed them manna in the desert as they wandered to the Promised Land, it would have been sufficient, and had God parted the Red Sea so they could walk through on dry land…and so on. In my life, I need to recall that I am enough, have enough and do enough.
All these months later, I still wade through those waters that threaten to engulf me at times. They wash over my obvious (to other people at least) successes and keep me on the go, wanting to remain one step ahead of the doubt monster that lunges at me, even in the face of health challenges that I spoke about in a recent elephant journal post called Going Viral.
I work my tush off; figuratively speaking, paradoxically teaching and writing; encouraging clients and students to accept what I haven’t completely, that they are enough, even as they endeavor to polish the diamonds in the rough that they may be. I joke that I am a ‘semi celebrity’ that people recognize in the supermarket, washing my hands in public restrooms, at parties, on the street, since I am a social media and PR Goddess…and yet…I ask the Universe about the financial remuneration that is ‘supposed to’ come from such alleged fame.
I love writing and find it incredibly rewarding. I am delighted when people read my articles, here and in the other venues where my words appear and hear them say that they have made a difference in their lives and inspired them to live their highest bliss…and yet…I notice that other articles yield copious amounts of readers; far more than mine do.
I ask myself, What will it take to pump up the volume of my writing?
I sometimes crave the spotlight and then feel embarrassed with so much attention. I dance between humility and hubris. The little kid who ‘wants to be loved best of all’, pouts about it…What do they have that I don’t have?, these icons who travel around the world and are now household names.
It’s not purely ego speaking here, although I have to admit, that altruism is not all it’s cracked up to be. Healthy ego strength is essential to stand center stage. A friend of mine refers to transformational teachers who have not remained grounded, as “enlightened egos”.
I recall years ago, asking a friend to call me out if I became too full of myself. She laughed and said, “You don’t need your friends for that. You’ve got Adam (my son) to keep you humble.” And so I do. He is both cheerleader and anchor who reminds me that if everyone I have ever supported, supported me, “You’d be a gazillionaire, Mom.” and then in the next breath, asks “How can you teach people to have what you don’t have? You’re not in a relationship right now, so how can you help them with that? You’re not totally happy with your life. How can you show people how they can be happy?”
I was half convinced that I had no place as a minister, therapist, writer and teacher who speaks on all of those subjects, since it would be hypocritical. I was about ready to hang up my various hats. My response to him was “Honey, if everyone waited until they had it ‘just right’, there would be no books, classes or magazine articles, no counselors or clergy. We are all in process of becoming who we choose to be.” Maybe I should follow my own brilliant advice here!
I have glimpses of insight about how to live in the betwixt and between of standing on the launch pad, leaning into the wind, and take-off. When I look back at the previous year, I acknowledge obvious successes, including this column which I wasn’t writing when 2013 began. I know that my own limiting beliefs; unconscious though they may be at times, keep me tethered to the ground, rather than allowing me to soar.
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Editor: Rachel Nussbaum
Photo: elephant journal archives