Friday, March 23, 2012

not enough!

Frances Crowe, 93, and Anneke Corbett under arrest.
Frances Crowe, the longtime peace activist who stands and perhaps defines the Saturday morning peace picket line here in Northampton, was arrested briefly Thursday in Brattleboro, Vt., home of the corporate headquarters for Vermont Yankee nuclear operations. Hundreds marched with the 93-year-old to protest the perceived nuclear threat. Dozens were arrested in a peacefully choreographed event.

And when asked how many times she had been arrested, the Associated Press story quoted Frances as saying, "Not enough."

Bless her hide! It really is nice to get up in the morning and find something to be delighted with. Frances believes whatever she believes but does not rest on convenient or much-applauded or much-disdained laurels. She can speak her mind and act on her own behalf and encourage others in ways she finds appropriate and yet, hovering and whispering, there is always a voice saying, "not enough."

As a quite personal matter, is anyone any different? Social causes, money, athletic ability, one-night stands, hopes, fears, intentions, heavenly realms and who knows what else ... shaping the personal scene and yet invariably it is "not enough." Work longer hours, strive ever harder in spiritual endeavor, find a perfect mate, travel to distant and beckoning lands ... none of it is enough to assuage the longing for what, at last, will be enough.

The question "what is enough?" seldom enters or is heard. The heart's desire is clear and piercing ... and yet it cannot be adequately enunciated except to say that whatever exists right now is "not enough." I may pretend for a while that x, y, or z is enough, that I have reached a Shangri-La where at last I can get a decent and deserved respite and release, but ... wait a while. The old habit is strong ... it's not enough.

It takes courage and patience and doubt to slow down enough and honestly examine this old and trusted not-enough companion. Whining and striving are as comfortable and reassuring as an old angora sweater. What is it that, enfin, that would be or honestly is enough?

The Zen Buddhist teacher Shunryu Suzuki once observed, "Being alive is enough." It is not necessary to be a Buddhist or a Hindu or a Christian or a race car driver or an insurance salesman to come to this conclusion. Not everyone expresses their answers the same way. But, in a more convincing and basic way, everyone asks the question and everyone is led to the same understanding. Only this is enough. Pleasant or unpleasant are secondary matters. By the time the word "enough" has left the lips, our old habits are back in play, whispering about what is not enough. It's savory bullshit, perhaps, but it is still bullshit. Maundering about "living in the moment" ... well, it's not enough.

Given this powerful and seductive love for our old, not-enough companion, I guess some kind of discipline is needed to yank on the reins. When the bullshit piles up high enough, the willingness to exercise patience and courage and doubt gains a bit of traction. The format -- Buddhist, Christian, ping-pong player, lover of beautiful women or handsome men ... -- doesn't matter.

What is enough?

Check it out.

And when "enough" is enough, we can all know it's time to return to the drawing board.

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