Enough Is Enough

There is a story that author Kurt Vonnegut once informed his friend and fellow author Joseph Heller at a party that their host, a hedge fund manager, had made more money in a single day than Heller had earned from his wildly popular novel Catch-22 [which sold more than 10 million copies] over its whole history. To which Heller was said to respond, “Yes, but I have something he will never have…enough.”

According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary the definition of enough is: “occurring in such quantity, quality, or scope as to fully meet demands, needs, or expectations.” What that looks like for each of us depends on our own specific situations but it is probably safe to say that the answer lies somewhere shy of where we think it does.

The tell tale sign that we Americans don’t think we own enough is our national obsession with shopping. For example, the average American makes 38 trips to a mall every year, spending an average of $83.30 per visit, or $1.01 per minute spent at the mall. And with an Internet connection we don’t even have to leave the comfort of our homes to rack up the debt, which Americans do to the tune of $8,000 on credit cards alone.

Referring to the iconic World War II era Norman Rockwell painting titled “Freedom from Want,” David Kamp writes in Vanity Fair: “It was freedom from want, not freedom to want—a world away from the idea that the patriotic thing to do in tough times is go shopping. Though the germ of that idea would form shortly, not long after the war ended.” Wherever we are on the consumer scale we need to try wanting less and enjoying the bounty that is ours. Enough is enough.