Whenever I come home, I always have a list of "life activities" which I hope to complete in my time away from school. Movies, books, phone calls, walks, yoga, meditations, eating patterns, and so on. And then halfway through my vacation, I realize I have not done enough. I haven't read enough, I haven't done yoga enough, I haven't meditated enough, I haven't been vegetarian enough (I'm a struggling carnivore). But most importantly, I am burdened by the realization that I certainly haven't given enough.
And this got me thinking. What is enough?
I think "enough" falls into three categories: (1) Having enough; (2) Being enough; (3) doing enough.
(1) Having enough: The plight of humans is the fact that we have convinced ourselves that we never have enough. The problem stems from the fact that we quantify "enough" to such extremes that it becomes an intangible destination. We never feel satiated by our current state of being. And this pertains not only to money and things, but to status, trend, and success. We don't have enough clothes, we don't get good enough grades, we aren't making enough money, our project isn't successful enough, we aren't understood enough, we aren't spiritual enough. Law school in particular encourages such thinking: get good enough grades, so you get a good enough summer job, so you can get a good enough job, so you can get a good enough partner position, so you can have a good enough lifestyle. One problem is that even if we attain what we initially sought, we tend to move the rung of success out of our reach, and convince ourselves, once again, that what we have now, is not enough. The other problem is that we tend to not even want that which we seek, and if that's the case, then we certainly never feel as "it" (whatever that may be) is "enough."
(2): Being enough: The greatest lie society tells us is that what we have is who we are. If you get good grades, you're smart. If you have a high paying job, you're ambitious,. If you have lots of things, you're successful. If you have Bibles lying around, you're faithful. If you wear nice clothes, you're attractive. Sometimes I get so irked by these lies (particularly when I feel myself believing them), that I want to run away to destination unknown, free myself from externalities, and just be me--free of labels and objects and judgments (especially the ones I put on myself). But while we do not have the capabilities to run away from it all, we do have the luxury of going inward, in silence, tuning ourselves into the frequency of God, and listening. The fear is, of course, that in the quiet and nakedness of ourselves, we may not be enough. But I truly believe that such a fear is unwarranted. We are, in our simplest form and our most vulnerable state, enough.
(3)Doing Enough: There is a scene from Schindler's List which resonated in me so deeply, that I think about it often. It is the scene at the end of the movie where Schindler is about to leave his home and factory, which had employed and hid over 1100 Jews during World War II. As he walks to his car, hundreds of Jews congregate around him to express their gratitude. And as he stands before them, a man holds up Schindler's gold wedding band and returns it to him. And Schindler takes his ring, looks at it for a minute, holds it up, and choking back sobs states, "I could have got more....I could have got more." And the man responds, "there are 1100 people who are alive because of you." But Schindler shakes his head and responds, "I didn't do enough." And he looks at his car and cries, "Ten people, ten people I could have saved with this car." And he looks at his pen and says "2 people. I could have saved two people with this pen." And eventually he collapses into a man's arm, sobbing, "one more person, I could have got one more person."
This scene makes me cry every time I watch in. And it makes me look around my room, my home, my life, and look at things, worthless things, that would only have value if their monetary worth was exchanged for an act of giving. That candle on my dresser is a cup of coffee for a homeless man. That sweater on my shelf, a meal for someone who is hungry. That decorative bowl on my table, a pair of gloves for someone who is cold. And so on. It's even harder for me to reconcile the wealth that surrounds me when I return to my parent's home. The newly upholstered couch...a Thanksgiving dinner for ten.
And if Schindler, a businessman who saved 1100 Jewish people during the Holocaust, is looking around saying "I haven't done enough," then surely I have not done enough. Whose life have I saved? Who have I helped? While I may not be living in the midst of the Holocaust, we are all living in the midst of a genocide in Darfur, famine in Zimbabwe, utter rape and destruction in the Congo, and violence and poverty in our own cities. At what point will I be so profoundly moved by the emergency of human need that I start giving away what I have? And not only do I want to start giving away unnecessary things, but I need to start giving away more of myself. And in giving myself away, I hope to truly find myself, and in finding myself, I hope to know God. I personally believe that our faith is not ultimately what we profess, but what we do. And I personally believe that without acts of love and grace and charity, I cannot know Him.
We already have, in our most minimalist state, eough. We are in our purest form enough. But what we do should never be enough, because once we convince ourselves otherwise, we
compromise ourselves, each other, and most importantly, God.