Sunday, March 20, 2011

Enough Isn't Enough

The word "enough" has been on my mind recently.  It's a measuring tool that doesn't stay consistent.  Every complimentary thing I could acknowledge about myself can be minimized by the simple application of that one little word.  Sure I'm creative, just not creative enough.  I'm intelligent, but not intelligent enough.  Enough for what?  I don't know.  But I think it has something to do with personal satisfaction.

One organization with which I was involved was great at reminding people that they are indeed enough, just as they are in this very moment.  Rich enough, pretty enough, smart enough, good enough.  Except that the organization also encourages people to keep taking courses, which to me implies that I must not be enough if I need to get more of something for my life to be all that it can be.  If I'm already enough everything, then I am lacking nothing, and there is no reason to pursue further knowledge or training or anything.

The problem is that the affirmation is empty.  What exactly am I rich enough for?  I'm rich enough to be happy in my life, but I'm not rich enough to start a $3 million endowment for musical innovation.  That's just reality.  I believe that some people are smart enough to make healthy decisions about their own lives, but that doesn't necessarily mean I want them making decisions about my money or my intellectual property.  The word enough requires some kind of qualification in order to make any real sense.

My own challenge with the word recently even comes in a bit of a disguise.  My inner critic says something like, You should be doing more.  You should be composing more every day.  You should be getting out there and making something happen. Which all really amounts to: "I'm not doing enough."  It's a harsh criticism for exactly the same reason that it's a lousy affirmation.  It needs some kind of qualification in order to make any real sense. 

So my question back to the critic has become, "For what?"  There are a lot of answers that actually don't matter to me.  It's really alright to have some clear sense of realistic limitations.  It's alright with me that I can't start a $3 million endowment, so stating that I'm not rich enough to do so isn't much of an insult.  It's just a statement of fact.  So, I'm not composing enough to send a new piece out to every competition I hear about.  That's OK.  That would be exhausting, and it's more important to me that I enjoy my life.

My level of compositional activity at this point may not comparable to some prolific composers, but the question is whether I'm satisfied with what I'm doing.  If I'm not composing enough each day to be personally satisfied, then there's something specific to address.  Then, there's a qualifier that makes sense.  My inner critic may be trying to open the door to that conversation, but it's much more direct to throw an accusation than it is to ask "Are you satisfied with the amount of music you're creating day to day, or would you be happier if you stepped it up a notch?"  Now that is an interesting question.

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