Wednesday, September 2, 2009

When Enough is Perfect

(one of McAfee's five homes, Colorado)

I watched a Nightline episode last night on John McAfee, of anti-virus software and instant messaging fame, and it highlighted something I had been thinking about for several days. And that is the thought that enough is perfect, too much is stultifying. We lose something in ourselves when we have too much. We lose our creative desire to achieve. Why look for your unique purpose in life if you have whatever you want, without the struggle. McAfee made the comment that people always want, but what they need is very little.

In his case, he was just auctioning off the last of his five homes, antique cars and air-stream trailers, planes, toys, art, all of his belongings. He had lost around ninety million dollars in this economic downturn, having most of his holdings in luxury real estate and the stock market. Luxury real estate is down, in case you haven't noticed. In fact, his multi-million dollar estate in New Mexico was auctioned off for around $525,000. He said it was less than he had spent on landscaping for the place.

But he wasn't upset, in fact he was relieved. It was all gone, and he and his pick-up were heading to Central America to work on a venture having to do with natural medicines. Had he a spiritual awakening? Maybe. Or maybe, like many of us, he realized too much stuff is like a ball and chain. It needs to be managed, cared for, maintained, cleaned. If it involves people to do it for us, it requires managing people, which is like herding cats sometimes.

He will walk away with a "fistful of millions", so he won't be worrying about having enough food, or shelter, or anything else that really matters. And that is the crux of the thing, having enough is imperative. We need a home, enough food for our family and animals, clothes on our backs. But it doesn't have to be wildly expensive meals in restaurants, five houses, and designer labels. Too much just bogs and weighs us down, sapping our innate desire to find our purpose. Which may not have anything to do with money or things, but something else, something imperative to us, hidden, waiting to be needed.

40 comments:

CrazyCris said...

Very true. Unfortunately we live in a society that does its best to make us believe that we want so many things, and what's more that we actually need the things we want.

Jeff D'Antonio said...

I don't think I'll ever be in a position of having "too much stuff", unless I win the lottery or inherit millions from some long-lost relative I don't know about.

But I have everything I need in my little house in the woods, and in the four beautiful people who greet me at the front door when I come home every day.

For me, enough couldn't be more perfect.

Meeko Fabulous said...

I totally know what you mean Nancy. I was telling my friend the other night that everything is ok as long as we have everything we need. Do we have food? Yes. Do we have a home? Yes. Do we have clothes? Yes. Are we gainfully employed (thank God)? Yes. Than what's the problem??? Always wanting more. As for me, I'm satisfied with what I have.

Jeninacide said...

Yes, totally. Struggling kinda sucks sometimes STILL though. I would like a fistful of millions so I could develop herbal medicines!

Expat From Hell said...

I wonder if it isn't the stuff itself, but rather the OBSESSING about it that ruins people. I bet McAfee has a lot more fun in Central America. Just give me a hut and a blender....

EFH

lakeviewer said...

Sometimes, it takes a crisis to shake us from our mad-dash toward acquisitions. Well said.

Brian Miller said...

less is more...we crowd our lives with so much stuff we desensitize ourselves to the things are are really important...and burden ourselves with debt that sucks the joy out of what we do have. great post.

DJan said...

Sometimes I wonder what makes a few of us immune to the desire to acquire things. Maybe when you lose people you love, things don't seem as important. But CrazyCris said it well: we live on a society where acquisition is supposed to equate to having made it in life. But really all you get, as Nancy says, is more stuff to take care of. Well said, a good reminder about what is really important.

GooseBreeder said...

Jeff sounds as if you have exactly the right ammount of 'stuff', many would envy you.Hopefully many will realise tha tal lthose trapping sof wealth don't ammount to a necessarily happy life.Voluntary simplicity leads to much greater freedom and happiness.Think of all the cleaning you don't have to do!

Ruth said...

I couldn't agree more.

Most important is what we do with what we have. I think if I had to I could easily survive with a desk, a chair, and a bed . . well and maybe a sink and a toilet.

Pat said...

Interesting post. Since we got rid of most of our belongings to travel, I don't have a lot. It was freeing, mind you. But I do miss a home, condo, SOMETHING, that doesn't move when you walk! I'd like enough money in the bank to help out my kids, my family, and feel secure. But it doesn't have to be a gazillion bucks! Just enough to pay off my Visa bill! LOL!

The Good Cook said...

Well said Nancy - enough is perfect. Add good health and you are wealthy beyond imagination.

Reya Mellicker said...

A fistful of millions ... ah .. yeah he'll be OK.

Wow.

Bonnie, Original Art Studio said...

Nancy: Well said. So true. Sound mind - sound body - soaring spirit. That's it. That's all.

Elizabeth Bradley said...

Oh Nancy, Nancy, Nancy. What a timely post. We (my husband and I) lost plenty in this so-called economic downturn, I think there must be a more accurate term but I can't think of one off the top of my head. We moved out of our house into a smaller one. It's on the market for a fraction of it's original worth, it's on sale for less than it would cost to build the darn thing, and then the fires came and my son (he's staying in the house) was evacuated. I refused to get upset. IT'S JUST A HOUSE, after all. There are way, way, way more important aspects of my life to tend to. Thanks for spreading the word!

robert said...

It was only yesterday that I wondered, whether 'too much, can ever be enough' - thank you for that interesting writing.

Missy said...

Just catching up on your last few posts. Loved the story of the hike as I think I've had similar experiences many times. I am now very leary of hiking and the false information given! Also, I thought I valued things less because I'm getting older-my friends that are my same age seem to be going through the same thing. Plus, we are baby boomers who have lost our great paying jobs and have been forced to downsize. All I want now is a little security, but do young people strive for all the "stuff" because it's a characteristic of that age? And then as we get older find we don't need it? I don't know-I thought it was just part of getting older.

Jeve (aka John and Steve) said...

Very well put. I agree with this 100%.

Barry said...

Now there is a philosophy I can really agree with! Enough is perfect.

Kathy's Klothesline said...

You stated it well! I think having to struggle a little brings you closer to your mate and makes you appreciate what you have.

scarlethue said...

Agreed. It's about being comfortable, and I feel so lucky to be comfortable. But no matter what happens, I don't think I'll ever have a huge house or expensive car. It's just too much.

Midlife Jobhunter said...

"sapping our innate desire to find our purpose."

I believe people think all those things will make them happy. When attained, no happiness comes. More stuff is accumulated.

I hope that changes for many and not because it is forced.

smiles4u said...

Amen! You hit it on the nail.

Butternut Squash said...

I met a man recently who explained his religious beliefs this way, "We believe that having one of something is good but having two of the same thing is not good."

Peace.

Marlene said...

I always say to my husband I just want enough to not worry and be secure not millions..it would be too difficult and it does change people...We made alot of money in our corporate jobs..and all we did was work and never enjoyed life..we were too busy making money..now we have less and are much happier..enjoying life with less!

Trish and Rob MacGregor said...

You hit it every time, Nancy. Right out of the park, running.

livenomad said...

What a great post. I read a book recently which hit this point home as well. Its called 'The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari'. Highly recommend reading it. Enough is perfect, we appreciate the plenty we have. Too much means makes us take things for granted. Simplicity is great. Thanks for the post.

TheChicGeek said...

Wow, Nancy :D The title of this post is perfect!
I love when you say, "people always want, but what they need is very little." It is so true. In reality, when we have what we need, it is enough, it is perfect and we are free and unencumbered. It feels good and life is much simpler.

Thanks for this thought-provoking post today!

Have a Beautiful Day!

Leah J. Utas said...

Yup, we see success here as excess. The whole concept of enough is lost on us. Or was, I think more people are finally getting it.
Well said, Nancy.

Valerie said...

Fortunately we're not possession mad people but I can understand how some people are coerced into thinking they should have everything. Interesting to read about John McAfee.

Momma Moe said...

Aaahhh, the joys of simple living, a simple life...they are innumerable. Great post!

Mental P Mama said...

That is so, so true. I have a realtor coming over this afternoon....I need to downsize for my wallet and my soul.

Celeste Maia said...

Very well said. Age has also something to do with it. The older I get the less I want. I dont want anything anymore, except to be able to travel and the curiosity to experience new things. As long as curiosity is still with me, then I have everything I need.

susan said...

I don't know if you ever read it or saw the movie but 'Fight Club' is one of my favorites. For example:

'You buy furniture. You tell yourself, this is the last sofa I will ever need in my life. Buy the sofa, then for a couple years you're satisfied that no matter what goes wrong, at least you've got your sofa issue handled. Then the right set of dishes. Then the perfect bed. The drapes. The rug. Then you're trapped in your lovely nest, and the things you used to own, now they own you.'

Be warned that it's pretty intense.

cami said...

Hi Nancy,

I just landed here from Meg's. Love your blog!! I will be back!

Sarah Lulu said...

Ohh I so agree on too much stuff!

Rain said...

Hi Nancy! It's so true isn't it? I used to have a 3 bedroom condo filled to the max with furniture, electronics and knick-knacks. When I downsized it was very hard to do at first, but I realize now that having less is much easier and really a lot less stressful too. I think I've become a minimalist!

Elizabeth said...

Too much is definitely very dreary indeed........
I'm a simplify simplifiy person

California Girl said...

the older I get the less I want more "things". After my mother died, my father made a big deal about getting rid of stuff in his house. He kept saying he did not want to leave it to us to have to clean out but I think he was unburdening.

My husband and I are going through an emotional time now because he is so ready to sell our home, the one in which we've raised our children, the one in which we've lived the longest (12 yrs but I'd hoped for 20) and it is a really tough thing for me to accept emotionally. I know it's the right thing to do, to unburden, to clean up my life so to speak, but letting go...thaht's the rub.

Phoebe Miriah Kirby said...

Oh goodness is this the truth. My husband and I bought $54.00 worth of second hand vintage clothing today and it made our world into a glossy diamond.

Were rich in love.