What then is enough ?
Is it money time or love?
Purpose or desire?
Before my husband Sam and I retired we spent years planning our future years by trying to address if we would have enough; enough money to fund the rest of our lives, enough time to enjoy an unknown amount of time; enough love for each other and enough good health to enjoy it all. We also wanted enough energy and resources to give to ourselves, our children and grandchildren, our friends and our community as we moved through the final days we had on this earth as human beings. As with all things human, we had no way of knowing or planning on the unknown miracles, occurrences or changing circumstances, we only counted on knowing they would be there.
Sam’s vision of enough has not changed: “Enough is enough time and money to do what we want, when we want, where we want, how we want for as long as we want and … enough money to make mistakes.”
Mine was to hope that I would have enough time, money and energy to “spend” on those people, places and things that I valued and loved. They were and are: Sam, my family, my service to others, health, art and travel.
Here I am, retired (that strange word), in a new chapter of my life. Every day the question of enough comes up as a puzzlement for me. What is enough? Will there be enough?
Take money for example. In dollars it appears that, with education and support, we did a good job of planning to have enough for now and in the future. Since money is a medium of exchange, our plans have enabled us to exchange or “trade” our money for goods, services and experiences that provides us the safety and security that Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs illustrates below.
But money is often more than mere dollars or “units of account”. Money is symbolic, and is meant to be fluid movement or flowing as in the term currency. It certainly is not static and when it comes to assessing or judging if there is enough, it can often be a measure of an emotional fullness or emptiness as well. It can be a measure or store of our values. No matter what the amount, some days it seems there isn’t enough and some days the amount seems abundant. It seems to represent a symbol and opportunity for change.
In 2009-2010 Sam and I wrote and published two books, Wealth and Well-Being and a Wealth and Well-Being Workbook to accompany it. We wrote Wealth and Well-Being because we wanted to understand and explore the role money had in our lives and then contribute this knowledge to the people in our professional lives. We specifically did not name the book Money and Well-Being because we both knew enough to know money was not the key to happiness, but the enrichment of knowledge of it was. We wanted a clear and precise plan for our lives and to discover and resolve the roadblocks that were stopping us from having the life and the retirement we wanted. We discovered our own path to high net worth, self care, and self worth were synonymous and could start anytime.
Water Flowing over Rocks
Photograph by Suzanne Lorenz
What about time? Time is often an illusive experience for me. I let it structure my activities, my behavior and even my emotions. I often feel I can lose tract of “it” even if I don’t know what “it” is. Author and writing coach Leslie Keenan proposes that we have two experiences of time: natural time (as a baby experiences it) and linear time (as a unit of measure). She suggests that if we have a conscious plan for our time that includes our own time rhythms we can “experience a new balance, harmony and peace.” I always intend this to be true, and yet now that I do not have a work schedule to dictate and organize my time, I don’t always know what my natural time rhythm is, nor how to organize it and my linear time. The plan that we created to finance a life of financial freedom in our retirement worked and is a blessing and a dream come true, but it evokes other questions: The freedom to do what? As I have the privilege to wake up in the morning and choose my day, week, month, year, what do I choose? Do I have enough time to be with my loved ones, commit to my spiritual growth, focus on my health needs, create art? Do I spend too much time on any of these to the neglect of the other? The judgement of how I spend my time like my money has the ability to energize me or depress me. If I stay in the moment it seems I can expand that moment. If I stay conscious, the popular word now being “mindful” my life works more smoothly. I align with my Higher Self, my spiritual inner guide, and these decisions seem less fraught with worry and more peaceful.
And love? If money and time are measurable units is this also true for love? How do we measure if there is enough love? What does not enough love feel like? Can there ever be too much love? It’s possible the answer is in the definitions one has for love. Here are three, from a dictionary and from the old and new testament of the Bible:
A profoundly tender, passionate affection for another person. A feeling of warm personal attachment or deep affection, as for a parent, child, or friend. Sexual passion or desire. A person toward whom love is felt; beloved person; sweetheart.
The Lord your God is gracious and compassionate, patient, abounding in lovingkindness. (Joel 2:13)
“Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance. … Three things will last forever—faith, hope, and love—and the greatest of these is love.” 1 Corinthians 13:4-7, 13, NLT
This is how I experience love: I have an immense love for Sam, my life partner, which encompasses trust, intimacy, commitment, respect and some darn good chemistry. For my 2 sisters and brother, I have emotional intimacy and friendship and a connection as they are my life witnesses. I have deep and tender unconditional love for my children and grandchildren. I have the enriching and nurturing love for my friends with whom I share common interests and goals. I have love for those I give service to. I have love and compassion for those fellow human beings with whom I share this earth. Then there’s one of the hardest and most important loves for me, the love for myself.
What is enough? I believe it is a measure of appreciation. I measure my wealth by my appreciation of it, my time by how I choose to honor it and appreciate it moment by moment. Love? By the gratitude and appreciation of all those I love and who love me. The more that I can appreciate those things, the more they expand. My money and wealth grows, my time has more meaning, my love for myself and others expands. If I am registering a disconnect or discontent, there will never be enough. In honoring and appreciating my choices, there is always enough of everything. If I measure enough by the infinite then there is always enough.
Photograph by Suzanne Lorenz