Wholeness, Slices and Slivers

My new favorite questions are:

How much is enough … of anything? How do you know you have enough? Once you know you have enough, what happens next?

I’ll be doing tele-classes on the topic, giving lectures and workshops and blogging, blogging, blogging.

Why? Because “enough” isn’t just a about money and stuff. It’s that place of optimal happiness for anything: time, appointments, friends, food, TV viewing. It’s that Goldilocks place of “not too hot, not too cold, but just right.”

Recently I explained it this way:

Here’s a circle


inside is all the time and all the space you’ll ever have. It’s as clear and open as a blue sky, full of possibilities, absent of any obligations or obstructions.

Then you have something to do. You have to take a slice out of that pie of perfect emptiness to put something in. Along comes another opportunity and you take out another slice. Eventually, between all the family outings and work projects and household chores and phone calls and hours of beauty sleep, your pie of time gets cut up into a dozen slices.  Your life feels full. Then along comes another opportunity. Someone offers to use his airmiles to fly you to Hawai’i. You are offered a choice promotion but it’s a longer commute. You decide to get a Masters to advance in your career. You meet the possible love of your life on Match.com and have to check it out.

In our “more is better and its never enough” world, what do we do in the face of one more thing to do in an already full life?

We don’t let go of any of the slices. We just cut them up into slivers until we have 24 slivers – all great but none fulfilling – instead of 12 slices or, better yet, a wide open pie of possibility.

Stressed by managing those 24 slivers we are likely too busy to evaluate which slivers to eliminate. Rather, we simply take a time management course (another time sliver) so we can make every darn minute of our days contribute to maintaining slivers.

This is the condition of too muchness and when we finally stop blaming ourselves for failing to master everything AND play a game of tennis a day, we begin to ask how much is enough. It’s a question that leads back to sanity.

How many games of tennis? How many business suits? How much food for lunch? How often a pedicure? How thin? How rich?

Those who ask this question are the lucky ones. They are the ones with time for their children. They take a year off to travel in a camper. They have a list of 100 best books of all times and actually are reading them. They eat, pray and love. They relish life. They are saucy. They savor.

What distinguishes these Savor people from the Sliver people? What have they learned what lets them let go?

I’ll explore that in future posts. Right now, I’m thinking about bed so I can read a little and get enough sleep.


3 thoughts on “Wholeness, Slices and Slivers

  1. I like how you have delineated the issue of “too muchness”
    and all the complexities we create when we truly want quality of life and it is so evasive. We keep dividing up the pie into more and more slivers. For me, I use the analogy of the juggler throwing up the balls in the air–at first, it’s easy with just a few balls and for awhile you can keep adding more balls but you have to keep it going, be totally alert and focussed every moment. Eventually, most everything but a few of the survival balls (like work & other day to day necessities), come
    tumbling down. Somehow the key seems to be an “inside” job. I look forward to future blogs and sharings.

  2. I think that the problem is not to have enough but to feel that you have enough. It depends on the case, some people would say that they have enough and their level of wealthiness would be described as very low. there also are some people that never have enough even if they are world recognized businessmen with billions of dollars on bank account. We can’t say which one of them has right, but certainly we could say which one of them is more happy. The freedom of not being dragged down by unnecessary rules that we don’ agree with could be worth more than any amount of money in the world.

  3. Thank you for the circle/pie analogy, and the reference to slices getting thinned more and more to “fit everything in.” It helps me to visualize what is happening. I see this problem in my own life, and even much more in some of the younger families around me who are trying to raise children while also going to school and working full time, AND not taking out student loans, AND expecting a clean house and a decent relationship with their spouse. Something has got to be given up because people just can’t fit all these things into their life (unless they are a robot, right?). This month I’ve been working on the topic, What can I let go of? It seems the only way to make room for more time with my daughter and writing time.
    *I do see the value of relationships/roommates where each has different skills and can each contribute to a relationship to make things easier. Perhaps part of the problems our society faces is not having enough extended family around to help each other? Are we doing too much alone?

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