What does it mean to have enough? I’ve been thinking about that question a lot this year. It is so easy to focus on what you don’t have and what you are still striving toward, rather than taking a deep breath and appreciating what is already all around you. I was absently humming along to a fabulous cover by Sarah Jarosz of U2’s “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For,” with the repetitive line: “But I still haven’t found what I’m looking for.” Then my 12-year-old son piped up from his seat at the kitchen table: “Then stop looking!” His comment made me laugh but it also made me think. At what point do we recognize that our ambition is getting in the way of our happiness?



John C. Bogle, the founder of Vanguard, gave a commencement speech to the graduates of the McDonough School of Business at Georgetown University in May 2007. He began his speech with this story:

At a party given by a billionaire on Shelter Island, the late Kurt Vonnegut informs his pal, the author Joseph Heller, 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 over its whole history. Heller responds, “Yes, but I have something he will never have . . . Enough.”

It takes an inner strength to be able to recognize when you have enough, and to restrain yourself from trying for more anyway. To be able to recognize that even if you could get more, you don’t need it, and it may not actually do you any good to achieve it. The polar opposite of Sarah Jarosz’s U2 cover is Thomas Rhett’s “Die a Happy Man,” with the lyrics spinning a tale of present contentment:

I don’t need no vacation, no fancy destination

Baby, you’re my great escape

We could stay at home, listen to the radio

Dance around the fireplace

(Never mind that my 12-year-old, Zen master no more, piped up with: “Actually, you’d get bored.”)



The discussion of “enough” makes me think about the Nine of Cups and the Ten of Cups in the Tarot deck. In Tarot, the number ten signifies culmination, an end point of a journey, while the number nine means you are almost there. In the Nine of Cups, a man is sitting, framed by an arc of nine cups, symbolizing plenty. But despite his riches, there is a question about whether he is satisfied with what he has. Perhaps it is his posture with the arms sullenly crossed and his shoulders hunched over, or his unsmiling facial expression, or his gaze looking off to the side rather than reflecting on his bounty. Maybe we shouldn’t be too harsh on him—it’s human nature to want the full culmination, and the Ten of Cups has such beautiful imagery! (Love! Family! Home! Rainbows!) But I think the Nine of Cups is a challenge card for us all. It is a reminder to catch ourselves when we focus on what is missing rather than what is present, and to take a deep breath and say, “It’s enough.” 


The Nine of Cups and the Ten of Cups, Biddy Tarot


And speaking of the zen of equanimity, no post about being satisfied would be complete without Old Dominion’s “Make It Sweet”:

Open sky, glimpse of heaven, take the top off the CJ-7

Let that surfside Santa Ana wind mess up your hair

And let that windshield frame the ocean

Radio keep coast-to-coastin’

If we don’t get where we’re going, baby I don’t care

I’m already there