avatarJudith Nadratowski


When Enough is Enough

Photo by Armand Khoury on Unsplash

“What the hell,” I chuckled. “Is this what they mean by ‘being in the moment’?” Just last year, if someone had suggested that I’d enjoy organizing Christmas wrap, I would have given them the death stare.

While I’m no stranger to the joys of efficiency, organizing a closet hasn’t been on my priority list for some time. So, when the spirit moved me recently, I couldn’t have been more surprised as I happily admired my meticulously assembled wrap organizer — I even snapped a picture! But don’t worry, it’s not that I didn’t recognize the modest scale of my achievement; it’s because I did.

You see, I’ve been dismissing these kinds of simple pleasures, much like discarding junk mail. Although I went into retirement imagining myself tackling my overcrowded closets and spice rack as I toured museums and dined at my favorite lunch counters, I quickly discovered that I had little patience for such things. But it wasn’t because something else was pulling me away; it was because something else didn’t.

Ironically, as much as I wanted more free time and better equilibrium, I craved to be immersed in something again. Having fun and being only task-driven was a big disappointment. I was settling for less rather than gaining more and realized I had to overcome this failure. Eventually I found my way to writing my blog to give me the more I needed. And now, I was back at the start again — except this time with the understanding of “Enough.”

I never really felt the tug-of-war between “More” and “Enough” — that juggling act between ambition and satisfaction. Giving More the edge was just a wise choice to make. It wasn’t about blind ambition; reaching for More was my survival mode to fend off failure. The best way I knew to keep up was by being a few steps ahead, beating what’s next, grasping for the next rung on the ladder. Of course, I left room for fun, but from grade school to high school, through higher education and into my career, I focused on More: the upcoming test, the next grade, the new semester, the next meeting, the feedback, the latest trend, the better app, the management change.

More was my safety net, inspiration, and good luck charm. It got me up in the morning and kept me up at night, shouting in my face and whispering in my ear. It became my philosophy for personal challenges, too: Why not plan for more with an upcoming leisurely shopping trip when in a work crunch, make more dates when others were canceled, and learn more about that opaque topic than worry about it? More worked, consistently producing rewards, including the opportunity to retire into a fresh realm of more possibilities.

But now I’ve arrived in a different spot where it’s time to give “Enough” it’s due. Sure, there’s been Enough of that bad habit, Enough time waiting for that return phone call, even Enough time spent in my career. But I see a different side to Enough I’ve been overlooking: the value of what’s already here rather than always looking beyond.

Opening to Enough lets me coast a bit, and there’s nothing wrong with that. And it’s also introduced me to other [more?] possibilities. After all, chances come in different shapes and sizes. For example, it might be the former colleague I had drinks with who shares one of my stories with a broader audience, the neighborly hello that leads to helping a new friend, spotting a fat blue jay chirping at the feeder and studying nature with other bird lovers, or simply sharing a good laugh, finding a new lipstick, observing the one-of-a-kind fiery hue of a winter sunset. Maybe even decluttering a closet. Some things may weave together, some may inspire, some may lead to more, and some just happen. However it may turn out, I feel a reassurance to make room not only for what I can see ahead but even what I can’t for a reason I can’t really explain. Perhaps it’s a little present for my recent birthday and a phase of growing older, or I’ve entered another retirement stage the experts write about. Whatever the reason, we all know time doesn’t stand still, and I don’t want to miss it.

Not to wax too poetic, but maybe taking time to enjoy the little things isn’t settling but settling down, a little gift and lesson in humility. Or perhaps it’s reconciling the pushing in my career with the moments I’ve pushed aside, finally catching up with the time I’ve been chasing with a long, deep breath. Regardless of how I got here, I’ve stumbled on more freedom and a sense of stability that doesn’t always require climbing boots.

I have much to thank More for and look forward to our continuing partnership, but I’m delighted to welcome Enough and see what it offers, too. There’s room for both. And my closets might get all the tidier for it.

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Simple Pleasures
Retirement Living
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