Friends Old, New, and Soon to Be,
I’ve been thinking about sufficiency. I reckon it’s always in the back of my mind, but the holidays bring it to the fore in a riot of lights and wrapping paper and store displays.
It is nigh unto impossible to live in our world and not come away with some feeling of insufficiency. We’ve replaced quality with volume in all its meanings; built a culture predicated upon the notions I don’t have enough, I haven’t achieved enough, perhaps I am simply not enough.
There are days I have to actively remind myself that there exists no gray headed, horn rimmed, central committee of functionaries reviewing my permanent record; shaking their heads and sucking their teeth as they mumble things about “unrealized promise.”
Compounding that, I am of an age at which it seems inescapable that I am what, who, and where I am going to be, sufficient or not. Most days that’s enough. But if I am honest with you, and I always mean to be, it can get a bit loud in my head. Still, there are signals amongst the noise.
Her mother out of town, my daughter and I were camping recently. It wasn’t my ideal. Drive-up camping at a state park with close by neighbors, macaroni and cheese from a box, and a New York Strip on cast iron. But the air was cool, the bugs were down, and the fire leapt with one match. We sat in the quiet and watched the embers rise, which I like. We watched a movie on the computer, which she likes. Then she turned, looked up at me, and said, unbidden and guileless, “Thank you for bringing me here, Daddy.” In that single moment the competing voices in my head gave way to the one saying, “You have everything you need.”
Sometimes I get the message. For her, I have achieved enough. I am enough. I imagine the members of the central committee slowly leaning back in their creaky chairs, looking around as one member chews on her pencil and begrudgingly says, “We may have to recalculate.”
But as surely as I am awash in little luxuries, there are people in this world without the luxury to contemplate, much less pontificate about, sufficiency. Their genuine lack is too present; too raw and real. Kentucky comes to mind. As we near the holidays, I ask you to take stock of your own sufficiency and find opportunities to assist someone with their own. I expect it will give you more than you knew you needed. Thanks for coming with me thus far. My best to you and yours over the holidays and for the coming year.
Russell Worth Parker
Editor at Large, Tom Beckbe