“The man to whom little is not enough will not benefit from more.” Saint Columbanus.
A Saint Patrick’s Day message from the other one. A dozen-and-one wise words on our insatiable appetite for more.
When I was a child, or even a young adult, or even a middle-aged woman, I used to marvel at the old sage who would declare, when it came to Christmas or their birthday, that they wanted for nothing and desired no gift, that all their modest needs had long since been met. I couldn’t imagine feeling that way. Wasn’t there always something to be needing or desired? Slowly, I’ve come to understand the freedom and lightness of less. Browsing shops in Glasgow last Friday with my friend, I bought nothing (ah, I did, a lipstick) and we adjourned for coffee and cannoli and talked about all the things we did not need, and all the things we had amassed and kept, and all the things that were stored away and never looked at.
Not that we should empty our houses, or cancel gifts, I love to receive a present, but perhaps we should do away with them as a compensation, as a ‘you deserve’, as something to make us feel better, as a proxy for love. That we are “addicted to compensations” is how someone once explained it to me. “One can mistake suffering for happiness, pain for pleasure,” he told me. I didn’t get it. He explained that there were some obvious and some less obvious agendas we chase that kill us. The compensations we are addicted to can be traditional and non-traditional: drink, drugs, food, sugar, clothes, cars, presents, co-dependent relationships, more. In following the path of whatever the ‘more’ is that you choose, we race towards disaster like a moth to a lit candle because more does not work. More is often an attempt to drown out the noise of feeling sad and empty.
That sadness will punctuate our lives is inevitable and I’m not sure we prepare new generations for it by gifting them out of it. Should sadness not make an appearance in life (impossible I would say), then it is not a full and true life. Something or someone has over-insulated you from really living if you have not felt the pain of sadness. When we grow wise to it, we know the compensations often only prolong the sadness, numb us out from dealing with it, and the better way is to feel and witness it fully.
And all that from me buying an unneeded (but enjoyed) lipstick in Glasgow.
2 thoughts on “More”
I find your penultimate paragraph so meaningful. Sadness is a small price to pay for loving and living. Of course, it’s not hard for me to say that at this point in time when my life is full, and sadness is not overwhelming me. I hope I will remember, when I am in a more difficult time. As always, your words make me think. Thank you.
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Thank you for taking the time to comment from afar. With best wishes to you, Eimear