I find it funny, in that kind of heartbreaking, cringing at the movie screen kind of way, that it’s never enough, and yet always too much. It’s a pattern I see in all things, especially myself.
It’s the unforgiving and never skipped daily workouts at the gym from 7-9am, 7 days a week. I haven’t missed one in years. I couldn’t fit more into these workouts. They are taxing and demanding and fun and exhilarating and totally needed for my mental and now my physical health. There will never be enough, though. I will never lift enough or run enough to be the perfect size. There is nothing I can do to change the structure of my bones, the length of my spine, the width of my shoulders. And yet, it’s always too much. I’m criticized for being too committed and given eye rolls for declining a boozy brunch because I choose the gym over the guilt and shame of being drunk in the morning and neglecting my to-do list. I’ll never be enough for those kinds of friends, and yet I’m too much in my diligence to health.
There was the partner for which I was never enough. I came up with my own reasons: not pretty enough, interesting enough, rare enough to be the one they chose to be kind, commit, or change their bad habits for. I could never measure up to the manic pixie dream girls in his head, no matter how much poetry I read or how edgy my outfit, or how aloof I pretended to be. And yet for that same person, I was too much. I was too demanding. I was too available. I was too….myself. My self was too much and there were too many expectations and desires attached.
In my bank account lies the same conundrum. There’s never enough, even when there is more than I’ve ever had. Money recently wrote me a letter; yes, my own subconscious picked up a pen and wrote from money’s point of view. Money had a lot to say about our relationship, namely that I was unkind and didn’t recognize its love for me. That I treated it the same way I treated myself: in this too much/never enough dichotomy and it felt unseen, misunderstood, and neglected. I was ashamed and pained for what strain I had put on that relationship.
But then, as Mark Nepo says in The Book of Awakening, there are the spaces of non-feeling feeling, non-expectation. A place of no labels and where such quantifications don’t even exist. I find the spaces in nature, hiking the Pacific Northwest with my partner. In the quiet of the morning at 5:00am with my first cup of coffee before the sun rises, before I can remember who I am or what I’m responsible for. And, as Nepo offers, it's available too in the slowness.
“Slowness remembers, hurry forgets…softness remembers and hardness forgets…surrender remembers and fear forgets.”
Mark Nepo, The Book of Awakening
If in moments of my hurry and rush to get to the finish line and complete some arbitrary goal that I’ve convinced myself will prove my worth, I can slow down and take a walk in my neighborhood and posit the feeling of safety within my body before the feeling arrives. Within that space occurs the shift out of ‘not enough, must do more’ and into ‘just right, just as it is.’ And in moments of hiding or concealing myself, masking my insecurities, or building up hard walls so as not to let out my emotions because they will certainly be selfish or ill-informed or humiliating, I can soften and loosen my grip on controlling someone else’s reaction to me. There lies the pivot from ‘too much, must be less’ into being, only being. From the thought itself, expanded out even beyond the thinker of the thoughts and the implementer of my stories all the way out to the awareness of that I am life, living itself. Experience all that it is. There I find the truth: that I could never be too much, and there is no such thing as not enough. Not in the endless, infinite love that is all we are and all we can do.
For today, that looks like a hot bath on a busy workday’s lunch break, just for the hell of it. It looks like one, maybe even two, leisurely strolls to nowhere, winding around my little enclave of LA. It looks like crying if that arises, eating if hunger strikes, and breathing with one hand on my heart, and one hand on my belly, not to control the breath but allow it to be full, then empty, full, then empty. None, then all. Not enough (breathe more in) and then too much (exhale) and accepting that they are not what they seem and I am not what my little thinking brain, my little stories and reasons, and plans, can ever fully comprehend.