Enough! Enough burning with greed, hatred, and aversion—enough reaching for more while trashing or overlooking what is here and now. This is the groundswell message from the growing Occupy Movement and its spiritual offshoots: Occupy Yourself, Occupy Your Mind, Occupy Your Heart, Occupy the Moment, and probably more to come. There is widespread questioning. At times the question seems to arise from the Earth itself. Can we begin to live another way? Can we be cool and put out the fire, replacing greed and fear with compassion and generosity? Can we let enough be enough? This is definitely possible at moments.
I saw this yesterday, at lunch in a cozy Italian restaurant in Nyack, New York. My friend and Parabola colleague David showed a few of us how our upcoming holiday online auction is shaping up. I was blown away by the spirit of generosity that infused the whole project. I felt very much as I did during the blackout, that I was watching the glimpsing the spontaneous arising of goodness and generosity—beautiful works of art and crafts and services being offered. Do scroll through it when it goes up on our website just after Thanksgiving: you will be watching a beautiful and diverse community unfold. Forgive me, I just can’t resist seeing it as a kind of gentle Occupy Parabola movement. Even if you don’t, you may be filled, as I was, with a sense of beauty and bounty, of enough.
Enoughness, the coolness of generosity and compassion compared to the fire of greed and hate, these are not new ideas. Jesus and Buddha went about occupying various places, urging people to stop being so grasping and blind to what really matters. In our own time, environmentalists and deep ecologists and economists and all kinds of people have been trying to get our attention. Years ago, when I was at Publishers Weekly, I remember reviewing a book by Bill McKibben called Enough. In that book, the ecologist reported from the frontiers of genetic research, nanotechnology and robotics (which have advanced considerably since the book was published in 2003, rendering it yesterday’s journalism). What remains interesting is that McKibben sought what he called the “enough point.”
What sets a human being apart from other beings, McKibben argued–and many more are arguing this now–is our capacity for restraint-and for finding meaning in letting go. “We need to do an unlikely thing,” writes McKibben. “We need to survey the world we now inhabit and proclaim it good. Good enough.” McKibben presents an uncompromising view, and an essential view. I realized on the way home from lunch yesterday that even if I did have the option of becoming a pain-free, all-but-immortal, genetically enhanced semi-robot (which is the kind of improbable world McKibben portrays) it would be nothing compared to being an ordinary human being who knows she will grow old and die; yet who can find happiness and meaning—and even a huge charge, literally a current of energy–in the face of that. In certain moments, I know we are all connected, and all charging, enlivening one another, and all of us supported by a greater whole—and it is good. Good Enough.