What a powerful word.
Even in these days of pandemic semi-lockdown, it is still easy to get the sense you are not doing ‘enough.’ That thought can be in my head before I even fully awaken in the morning! Not a good way to start a day.
But then, as usual, my first stop of the day is my bathroom, where I am greeted by this sign that I bought from an artisan a few years ago.
Of course, it is a takeoff on the expression, “Dare to be Different”, but in truth, this feels far more radical. It is choosing Selective Intentional Indifference, choosing to not have an opinion on every little thing in life, and rather, reserving your concern for things that truly matter.
Here in America, on July 30th, we had a brief respite from the insanity of pandemic, racism, violence, and governmental overreach. The three-and-a-half-hour display of clarity, reverence, intelligence, and hope occurred at the funeral celebrating the life of our beloved elder statesman John Robert Lewis. It felt like time-travel, to listen to eloquent respect coming from past presidents on both sides of the American party system, from men and women, from blacks and whites, from young and not-so-young. There were tears of loss and tears of hope. I am so glad I witnessed it as it was happening. Fresh air, fresh commitment. So much to learn from that gathering of good hearts.
John Lewis understood equanimity, a beautiful word meaning “mental calmness, composure, and evenness of temper, especially in a difficult situation.” He got into “good trouble” often, and kept his cool. He knew his cause was a long marathon, not a sprint.
At the heart of this calm persistence, in any one of us, is knowing deep in your heart when you have done enough for today. Not forever, not for good, but for today.
Bringing It Home
That is why I have a brief check-in with my journal most mornings, to greet the day, to acknowledge any appointments I have during the upcoming hours, and to make a loose plan so that by the end of the day I am in accord with the notion of Enough.
In order to understand Enough, I must Dare to Be Indifferent to all sorts of things throughout the day. Living alone in Covid Times, I am as susceptible as anyone to Excessive Up-To-The-Minute Minutia offered up by dozens of cable TV stations all clamoring for my attention. They do not deserve it, for it is in precious short supply.
I know what Enough News looks like. For me, two specific hours a day gets me everything I need.
I know what Enough Food means, and that takes planning ahead so I make good, fulfilling choices.
I know what Enough Exercise is, although I find it challenging at times.
I know what Enough Creative Time is, although I rarely settle for Enough. Creative time is writing this blog, working on a sketching manual that I plan to publish before the end of the year, reading watercolor books or watching watercolor instruction videos to learn even more about my heart-of-hearts favorite pastime.
I know what Enough Social Contact in a day is. I try to have about an hour of quality one-on-one time a day with another living human, either phone time or the now-common “Zoom time.” Occasionally I also see someone in person, and it feels like a very special occasion.
I know what Enough Work on Social Justice is (which of course is never truly enough), but it is more than nothing. I educate myself. I write letters of support to my truly wonderful legislators. I donate miniscule amounts of money hoping it makes a difference. I vote. Man do I vote.
And I take my personal version of Social Justice into my daily life by thanking people whenever I can. By being patient when I go to the pharmacy or grocery store, and thanking the clerk every single time. I listen to friends who have different views than I do, and I ask myself, ‘What would John Lewis do?’ I do my best, I fall short, but it is better than Nothing. It is Enough for Today.
Enough. Equanimity. Selective Indifference.
Verse 5 from my favorite poem, Desiderata, states, “If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain or bitter, for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.”
In addition, I recommend refraining from comparing our insides with someone else’s outsides. We always come up short, and besides, it is a waste of precious time.
Get a journal, better yet a sketchbook. Greet the day daily. See how your life improves.