I never realised how much I overuse the word enough until I started trying to translate myself into French. C’est suffit means That’s enough. But it’s unusual (or just doesn’t work) to say enough in other contexts, ie. ‘there are enough cheerios in Elena’s hair.’ You need to use the word suffisement and it just gets clunky. I don’t know if this tells us something about the culture of attainment in New Zealand or France. I don’t pretend to be an expert in either.
But I do have something to say about having/doing/being enough.
I really admire people who say ‘no’ to things because they’ve got enough going on. I think it takes guts and wisdom and an admirable amount of self-knowledge. It’s tempting to think that an event/cause/the whole wide world won’t get on without us, but it will. There are things we need to do and there are a bunch of other things we say are necessary, but aren’t. That’s not to say those things aren’t good to do.
I used to teach 14 year olds about poverty and social action – two separate social studies units, one on the back of the other. In the social action unit they learned about different types of social action, petition, protest, etc., and then had to choose a cause and take action. They’d get quickly overwhelmed and flabbergasted at the choosing-a-cause stage of the game. There are so many good causes out there. I support nearly all of them on some (I mean philosophical) level. But there are some I’m passionate about and many, many others which I hope get on well without my involvement. I told the 14 year olds to pick the one that got them the most pissed off and go with that. Most of them did animal rights. I talked some of the boys out of dressing like chickens and harassing KFC customers. In the end they rallied sponsorship and took turns trapped in crates like pigs. PETA and the SPCA took tiny donations for all our hard work.
It’s tough, but we have to choose. One of the options, of course, is to do nothing. But NONE of the options is to do everything.
Much of the time I feel a little bit background-guilty for not doing enough. Perhaps we all do. Perhaps that’s just how effective the advertising campaigns are for all those good causes we can’t or won’t support. But the guilt isn’t just about human rights and animal rights and the environment; it’s so much bigger than that.
The house is a mess. I haven’t written a blog post in a week. I haven’t caught up with friends x, y and z in months. I keep meaning to write an article for this particular magazine. I need to print out Elena’s photos and finish her 1st year album (the only one I intend to do…). I should make something healthy/interesting for the kids’ lunches. I should clean out the fridge. I should do my French homework. I should put all the laundry away. I should make Louis’ 3rd birthday cake worthy of instagram/pinterest/etc. I should… blah blah blah guilt.
Well, I still intend to make the robot cake.. In fact, I intend to do all those things (except the fridge) at some point. I could probably tick a lot of it off the list in the next week/ten days if I didn’t do anything else. But I’m saying NO.
I am a writer. I want to be an author. Now we’re getting down and dirty with semantics, but that distinction is important to me.
The POINT is that I have to say NO, or at least WAIT, to the things on my potential and perpetual to-do list in order to
a) one day become a published author,
b) not lose my mind, and
c) not alienate all my friends and family.
(This order does not indicate importance. It’s not a ranking. Just saying.)
Yesterday morning I queried literary agents. In the afternoon I wrote a few hundred words and blew my nose a thousand times. I put on Pingu and wrote a shopping list for a kid’s birthday party.
This morning I have done the gratitude survey (not essential. A nice thing to do, but probably a good thing to say no to) and written this blog post and in a minute I’ll put on the laundry. I will write for half an hour then pick up Louis from school. We will come home via the pharmacy and I will buy potent cold&flu drugs (now that I’m not breastfeeding – yippee!) We will have a mediocre lunch. I won’t have to strong-arm the kids to eat any of it. I will have leftover chicken korma and we’ll watch the Michael J. Fox show.
I might read the kids a few stories. I might play Candy Crush and tell them to read stories to each other. Then Louis will nap and Elena will follow me around while I do a shoddy job of cleaning/tidying the house (so that there’s less to do tomorrow morning in preparation for Louis’ birthday party). And then Elena will nap and I will write. There is a girls night out tonight and I am not going. I am going to make cake (from a box) and watch sitcoms.
That is enough.
ps. I should find an image to make this blog post “pop”, but it aint gonna happen.