Friday, June 04, 2010

Enough Already

The environmentalist, Bill McKibben, wrote this essay called “Enoughness” in which he expounds upon the value of not desiring more than you already have. It’s especially the case, he says, when it comes to the experience of nature: generally, he maintains, when we’re out in the wild, we don’t look around and say, “I wish those flowers were more beautiful or that the sky was grander or that the vastness all around were more awesome.” Usually, when it comes to the way we look at the world, enough is enough—in contrast to how we tend to think about consumer goods, where it’s all about bigger, faster, more, more, more.

I think McKibben is mostly right on (although I myself have found myself sometimes wishing that Mother Nature would make minor improvements, anyway: no mosquitoes, for instance), and I also think the experience of “enoughness” becomes more common as we get a little bit older—or, in my case, a lot older.

So, for instance, yesterday evening, it turned out to pretty much be all I needed to have a lovely, leisurely and slightly inebriated bike ride back from Cascadia to downtown and then a glass of beer with some of the usual suspects on a Thursday night. I didn’t really have to engage in the full shenanigans and debauchery that were available to be enjoyed by all who wanted a bit more and so, in relatively short measure, found myself pedaling home and while I did consider stopping off somewhere for a nightcap, ultimately came to the conclusion that I’d sampled all I really needed of the proffered festivities, and called it a night.

Besides, there’s only so much of the Shirts-Off Crew a fellow can take; while nature, as McKibben says, provides us with a sense of “enoughness,” there are other things (of which we shall not speak) that by their very existence, provide us—me anyway—with an immediate feeling of way too much.


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