Probably we’ve all heard the teaching stories – the ones that make us all nod as if we know something, the ones that make us mutter aphorisms and wisdom-words at each other about the consequences of greed and getting more and more.
The stories are usually about some guy sitting all alone in a big old mansion on a hill somewhere. He has everything and yet he feels like he has nothing.
(Usually the tale is about a guy, but, really, we could easily substitute a gal in there instead these days.)
Here’s a thought: Maybe it wasn’t greed that led that lonely one down the road to Empty. Maybe he or she just didn’t recognize when they had gotten to “Enough” and just kept on going.
That does happen.
ONE ENTREPRENEUR’S STORY
It happened to The Light of My Life’s boyhood friend Ed. They grew up together, a couple of wild kids running through the Oregon woods, fishing and hunting and doing Nature Boy things.
When high school ended, my LOML went off to roam the world and Ed settled in to a job in town hanging doors in houses and installing hardware (hinges and knobs and things).
Ed had a great work ethic. He was honest and honorable and did good work. He got more and more door jobs so he hired some friends to help out. And then somebody asked him, “Can you do windows?” Ed thought about it and hired a friend or three who were good at that and on they went.
It was just around the time of a big building boom in Portland during the Vietnam war times and Ed and the boys kept getting tapped to do more doors, more windows. Apartment buildings and business office buildings have a lot of windows and doors, you know.
Ed accumulated a fleet of trucks for his crews of guys and he hired more friends who were really good at fixing them. He built warehouses with baseyards for all the supplies and equipment he needed to get the work done and he hired some other friends to manage all those resources.
As an entrepreneur, he felt responsible for making sure that his friends kept working and he worked the hardest of all keeping everything running right.
He never knew what to do with all the money he was making so he bought stuff everybody said he should get. Unfortunately, he was so busy being responsible and taking care of business that he really did not have a lot of free time to enjoy all the stuff he had accumulated.
By the time he was in his mid-thirties “rich” had happened to him.
However, the Real was that Ed really had not thought much about the direction he was headed. He just went along wherever the road he was on was taking him.
In truth, he was a “victim” of the times and of his own honor and excellence. “Rich” happened to him; it wasn’t his biggest numbah-one goal.
Everybody told him he “had it all”…a wife who was his childhood sweetie, children he adored, a big old house on a hill and lots of really neat toys guaranteed to warm the cockles of a born redneck’s heart. Whoo-hoo!
One day, a good long while after high school days, Ed came to visit his old friend Mathew who was living in the wilds of Huelo on the island of Maui. This is the poem that Mat wrote about the visit:
A boyhood friend who’d always dreamed
Of being a big success
Came calling down my forest path
To find me in my wooded nest.
He said he’d married long ago
A girl who also strived.
They worked for their dreams,
They bought a house and two turned into five.
He got a job doing piecework
And began to hire his friends.
He rented a big old warehouse
To put his equipment in.
Next, he got a fleet of trucks
Then men to tend them all.
The jobs piled up like the pages
Of his calendar on the wall.
His wife and family stayed at home
In their palace on the hill.
They never saw him ‘round the house
He had contracts and deals to fill.
My friend was working day and night.
He’d sleep from two to four,
Sometimes on his sofa,
Sometimes on his floor.
He made his magic million
In seven years of toil,
But he couldn’t stop the workers
So he made a million more.
One day his car broke by his home
On his way to a very big deal.
He walked to his house to use the phone,
But the door was barred with steel.
A note was pinned onto the door,
His name written on the page.
He opened it up and looked inside
And this is what it said.
“On August tenth we left with George.
“A man you never knew.
“He doesn’t have much money,
“But he loves us true and through.”
“We’ve gone to settle in the west
“On his farm in mountains high.
“I hope your millions were worth the price
“Of us leaving with no goodbyes.”
“I know you loved us dearly,
“But we’re tired of living alone.
“We’ll write you when we’re settled.
“It’s over now! We’re gone!”
Now he wanders the earth alone.
He looks on trails like mine
In hopes of finding his lost love
And restoring his peace of mind.
By Mat Westcott
Years passed. When Mat and Ed reconnected many years later Mat got to learn where his friend’s road had taken him during the intervening years.
Ed said he went through a period of confusion and pain. He sold all his extraneous stuff and moved to Tucson. A brand new start. He went on to build a life that included all of the things he had loved as a young boy. (Hunting and fishing played a big part in it.) He found another lady to share his life and they were happy.
And this time, the good times kept on rolling and Ed made sure they didn’t get away from him again. This time he made sure he paid attention and made the time to enjoy the life he had mindfully built.
SO…HOW MUCH IS ENOUGH?
It is a funny thing. There are all kinds of answers to that question, and the answer does depend on who’s asking…and who’s answering.
Here are several YouTube videos, each with an answer. Perhaps one of them will resonate with you.
The first “How Much Is Enough” was published in 2010 by ChickenSoul84. It’s a modern reiteration of a very old teaching story about an encounter between a fisherman and a businessman.
The second video of the same name was also published in 2010 by Retire Happy and features retirement counselor and financial educator Jim Yih in the middle of one of his workshops about how to retire happy.
This third one features author and motivational speaker Randy Gage and was published in 2014 by Prosperity TV.
Which one speaks to you most?
MY FAVORITE VIDEO ABOUT “HOW MUCH IS ENOUGH”
This video is my own favorite. It’s a video-collage put together in 2020 by Green Renaissance, a collective of young filmmakers who tackle big questions.
This ten-minute video is made up of bits and snippets of other videos by Green Renaissance over the past couple of years that feature the individuals showcased in the video-collage.
In their notes about the video, the filmmakers say, “There’s no denying that money is an important part of our society and having a degree of financial stability increases our ability to enjoy life. But the reality is that most of us live in a world of overabundance. We need to realise that we have enough. We need to stop linking our self-worth and happiness to doing and having more. That’s a journey worth taking.”
Click the button below if you feel moved to support the efforts of these young people.
Perhaps the most important thing of all, when you’re working on constructing a life with meaning and mana, is knowing what nourishes and nurtures you and knowing what makes your heart sing.
If you don’t know what your “enough” is, how will you recognize it when you go on past it?
This is something worth thinking on.
(Header photo credit: “Big Enough?” by Matthew W. Jackson via Flickr [CC BY-SA 2.0])
SOME OTHER POSTS TO EXPLORE:
(Click on each of the post titles below and see where it takes you….)
Thanks for your visit. I’d appreciate it if you would drop a note or comment below and tell me your thoughts
10 thoughts on “PINPOINT “ENOUGH””
Such a beautiful post, filled with honesty and a truth that affects so many of us to some degree. Thanks for sharing this post, the heartfelt poem.
And thanks also for sharing our film – ‘How Much Is Enough’ – which features a number of people who have shared their personal stories with us from a place of authenticity and truth. We’re so glad that is resonated with you.
Sending much kindness across the seas in South Africa.
Justine, Green Renaissance x
Justine, I do thank you for your visit and for your kindness. Your films are marvelous! Keep on doing the good work!
And do, please, come again….
What a deep post Netta, and what a lovely poem.
I personally think my young family is on the same road as Ed. We’re trying to build a better life for ourselves, trying to earn more, but I don’t think we have a real life goal in mind.
Your poem made me reflect on how much I need to sit down with my husband and decide what shape our future should take! Thanks so much for sharing.
Priya, thank you for the visit and for sharing your thoughts. I am so glad the post was helpful to you.
Please do come again.
Thank you for sharing this awesome content, I really did enjoy your poem. I think most of us are always seeking improvement and a way to secure a better life for ourselves and for our loved ones.
Earning good money is important but we shouldn’t forget what our ultimate goals are and personally I feel one should never forget to stop and enjoy the life we have as well and not just continuously chase success.
Thanks for the visit and for sharing your thoughts, Jean. I do appreciate it.
Please do come again.
The concept of “enough” can be a tough thing to reconcile.
As someone who has worked in a corporate environment, I found that I would have preferred to work at my exact job, but only half of the time. Working part-time would have provided enough money to be comfortable and also to explore other interests. Unfortunately, that is not how corporate careers are structured, and I wasn’t able to work fewer hours. What could have been a beautiful and mutually beneficial work experience with 20 hours of work became a burden with 40 hours of work.
“Enough” can be a challenging thing to get just right.
Aly, thanks for sharing your story. It adds another dimension to the post. Thank you.
Please do come again.
Nice article, at first I am reading it thinking, wow he accomplished so many goals and gained wealth. I thought to myself that I want that to be me. As I continued reading, I saw the moral of the story was that wealth doesn’t bring you happiness!
My goal in life is to not be “rich” with money but to have a rewarding and rich life. I wanna cherish what’s important like time with my family. I don’t wanna work 90 hours a week to earn $ and in the process miss seeing my child grow up!
Thank you for this article it gave me a lot to think about!
Stephanie, thanks for stopping by. I’m so glad the post was helpful to you.
Please do come again.