How To Enough
Here is a short list of things I am addicted to:
Eating popcorn, corn chips, or anything that is made out of corn but is not just regular old corn the vegetable.
Sugar and salt. Why do all the good/bad foods have to start with S? Am I, Sophie, a good/bad food?
“The Office,” "Parks & Rec,” ”30 Rock,” ”Gilmore Girls,” and any and every other show where no one dies and there are no drugs or guns that don’t serve a comedic purpose.
Browsing Pinterest pages about how to make Zoodles appetizing and how to make banana muffins out of basically nothing but bananas.
Candy Crush and iterations of games that are LIKE Candy Crush that only exist for the times when I run out of Candy Crush lives.*
Crying unceremoniously in places like: the bathtub, the bird sanctuary, the movie theater, my bed, on the ground, on the train.**
Before I go on, let me say this: I know a little about the hard substance-related addictive behavior you’re thinking about. I’ve attended Alinon meetings, and every therapist I’ve ever gone to tells me I should attend more of them. But this post will not be about that. If you want to read about drugs and alcohol, I’d like to introduce you to my friend The Internet, who has TONS to say on the subject and who would LOVE to tell you as many brutal and gruesome stories as you would like to hear.
When I say “addictive thinking,” I mean that feeling that you need something more, something else; that something is going to satisfy an itch or a need or a hunger; but nothing ever does. It’s the thinking associated with, “I can’t stop doing this”; or, “Just one more, I swear.”
And while my addictions to popcorn and “Parks & Rec” are certainly worthy of pages and pages of thoughts, instead I want to write about the most insatiable of all of them: the worry.
I don’t know about you, but I spend at least half of my waking hours worrying that something is going to go wrong, or that it already has. I worry that I haven’t done my work well enough, and that the people in my life don’t like me enough. I worry that I am not exercising enough, or that my food choices throughout the day aren’t healthy enough. And most of all, I worry that I am going to die, or the people I love are going to die, or that people on the other side of the earth are going to die, or that the whole planet is going to die, and when that happens, I will not have done enough.
When the worry is too much, I distract myself by trying to make the gross banana muffins, aforementioned (are they moist enough?), or by watching reruns of “Friends” (am I being socially critical of this show enough?). And then I wonder if I have distracted myself enough, which inevitably, I have not (because if you have to wonder...), and then I try harder, and then it is night and I realize that a whole day of my life has passed again and I have not enjoyed it enough.
Two paragraphs of “enough,” right there; and I’m only scratching the surface.
Yesterday I woke up with the same old knot in my chest and, after contemplating both if I had slept enough and if I had gotten up early enough, a sound interrupted me. The sun wasn’t up yet but we have these bird feeders right outside and the early morning birds were going nuts over breakfast. They were so loud and chipper that I stopped thinking and started listening to them, and as I listened, just for a minute or so, I felt ... not miserable. As the loud birds shifted out of focus again, a single question echoed for me:
“What would enough be like?"
The only thing I could hope for was that “enough” would feel like how it feels to be listening to birds in the morning without an agenda. It would be the feeling of contentment that sits inside moments you choose to be present with. It would be something I could have right now.
All of my addictions are elusively shimmery promises that at some point, I will be sated. The questions and worries I entertain all the damn time about death are particularly pervasive because I can’t even imagine a conclusion that would potentially satisfy me; the world of death is outside the realm of human understanding, and that drives me crazy. All I want to do is be able to control every little thing in my life, and, of course, I can’t control any of it.
This morning, right now, the birds are up and crazy again, and I’m grateful about that. After I post this, I’m going to sit at my window and try to listen. I will probably not be able to listen enough, or focus enough, or be present enough. But then again actually, no one is keeping score. The only way to enough is to decide that you are already enough. And you already are.
* I am so embarrassed of my addiction to Candy Crush that I BURY it in the back of an apps folder on my phone where no one can see, and whenever I download subsequent editions, I delete them immediately after I’m done with them. I treat Candy Crush spin-offs like condoms. It is very bad behavior.
** (cont.) at school, in public restrooms, near record players, at animal adoptions agencies, in every type of museum, near trees, under bridges, when seeing a pretty man, when seeing a happy family, ice skating, at the suitcase store, roofs, while walking, while sitting cross-legged, in the soft-lines section of Target, in the kitchen, by plants, and many, many, MANY more.