More Than Money
Issue #4

How Much is Enough?

Table of Contents

“The Savoring - Fiction”

One day in the perhaps not-too-distant future, when our culture supports each person to discover just how much is enough...

After closing her eyes, she still saw the peaches, plump and glowing before her on the market table. Cynthia whispered aloud the words she always tried to remember before buying anything. "Would this bring goodness to our lives? Do we truly need it?" She pictured their little one, Elijah, squealing with the juice running down his chin onto his T-shirt with the lion picture on it. Yes, those peaches would be great! But (sigh) before buying more fruit, they should use up that basket of oranges she had bought with Mirabai a couple of days ago.

Ucchh! Cynthia recalled the last late-night "talk" she and Mirabai had about their spending differences: "Mirabai, you're just stingy!" "I'm not stingy, I'm careful! But you, Cyn, you're like a child, getting swept away by wanting things that later don't mean a thing!" Finally, they had agreed they were past due for a Savoring. Most households had one every two to three years, but Mirabai and Cynthia had been putting it off for seven. Scheduling the ceremony had at last brought some peace to the household.

Hurrying from the market, Cynthia took an eager bite from the single peach she had bought. It was dry and mealy, and she smiled wryly to herself. Yes, it is time. I need the help of those who love me to look carefully at all my possessions and at how I spend my life. I'm glad the Savoring is tonight!

Back home, before the guests arrived, she walked slowly through the plant-filled house. Today it looked beautiful to her eyes, but in daily life she hardly noticed. How odd, she thought to herself looking at some of the wall hangings she herself had woven years before. I used to love these, but would I even blink if they disappeared one by one? Last week she had been grumbling about the Savoring, feeling it was Mirabai's way to force her to give up things she didn't want to let go of. Now, a small cloud inside her moved aside: Mirabai is right, I need to let go. I just don't have to like it!

When dinner was over and the dishes washed, Cynthia, Mirabai, Elijah snuggled together on big cushions in a room luminous with candles. Friends arrived, forming a big circle in the room. When all were present they held hands in silence, and Cynthia and Mirabai and Elijah stepped into the circle. Their friends sang each of their names three times, and the harmony and power grew with each repetition. Elijah eyes opened very wide with awe and whispered, "They're singing for us!"

Together, Cynthia and Mirabai held up a giant rose-colored glass brimming with fresh-squeezed orange juice: "Thank you, friends, for coming to share this Savoring with us. We ask your help to savor what is good and sweet in our lives, and to let go of what no longer serves us." Mirabai smiled sweetly at Cynthia and said solemnly to the gathering, "Lately, Cyn has helped me realize that I am often too tight with myself and with her. I look forward to your help taking better care of myself." Cynthia was speechless, and so said nothing.

Alejandro stepped into the middle. "Mirabai and Cynthia asked me to help guide our work together, tonight and tomorrow. ...What Elijah? Yes, you can play outside--Johor agreed to go with you ... Have you all read the summary of issues they sent you last week? Yes? Then let's begin by celebrating what has fed and sustained you." Cynthia and Mirabai told stories about what was feeling solidly nurturing in their lives, with friends chiming in appreciations of the determination and vision it took to build healthy lives. At times Cynthia broke into tears, it felt so healing to be recognized for her strengths rather than faulted for her shortcomings.

An hour or so later, the discussion drifted naturally to what had become challenging in their lives. "Mirabai, you need more space in your life to renew and enjoy yourself," Alfie told her. "You've said you long to spend more than one afternoon a week with Elijah, and you've wanted to practice the drums, but you can't do that if you are working 60 hours/week."

"But Alfred , the city is depending on my finishing that research for the whole public transport system upgrade next fall!"

"Sure, sure, Mirabai, everyone knows you are the most rigorous scientist on the team. But we can do just fine if you worked 33 hours/week like everybody else. Remember if we get behind schedule we can hire another person for the team; it doesn't mean it falls on you!" After more discussion, Mirabai decided to try out a new schedule for the next month to see how it felt. "I can't believe I'm sweating with fear about cutting down on my work! But I can't wait to try it!"

"Cyn, love," said her friend Judith, "you have the opposite block as Mirabai to your savoring your life more fully. You've just described how your life is so scattered because you try one thing after another, and you never focus."

"Hey," Cynthia replied, "I would love to find something that I'm really good at, like Mirabai is with her research. I am dying to find the place where I can make the biggest possible contribution."

Mirabai looked at her sadly and tenderly. "Cynthia, you're too hard on yourself. You have so much to give. I agree with Judith. I think you need to pick one area and stick with it long enough to really give yourself a chance to get good at it. Is there something you would feel drawn to explore in this way?"

"What would I want to do if I didn't have to prove anything to anybody?" Cynthia fell silent, her mind wandering to her mother's comment last week: "You must be proud to live with such a talented scientist!" Cynthia's cheeks had burned as she thought bitterly, "and how ashamed you must be of your do-nothing daughter!"

Shaking herself into the present, Cynthia spoke aloud what she hadn't the nerve to admit before: "I've got to do what is right for me and not compete with Mirabai. Why don't I stick with things? Because I don't like them enough! If I did what I really wanted to do, I think I'd ditch the gross medical classes and all the rest of it, and I...I... think I would work with plants. I don't know, I mean I love being outside and seeing things grow. I love the magic of the vegetables and fruits growing."

A while later, after all their next steps were spelled out and Alejandro had written their decisions down to remember later, Cynthia and Mirabai held up another goblet for a toast to the gathering. The pomegranate juice burned like liquid rubies in the soft light, and all drank....

The next morning, three friends came back to guide them through the Savoring of their possessions. "Tis a gift to be simple, 'tis a gift to be free...." They sang the old Quaker song outside their front door. "May we listen deeply to ourselves, to discern which possessions nourish us and which can go on to nourish others." They opened the door. "Let's start in my room!" shouted Elijah, tugging their arms. He showed them which toys he loved most and then proudly chose an armful to say farewell to.

Throughout the day they looked through every room including every drawer and closet, from basement to attic, telling stories as they went. "My first love gave me this ring in high school. Yes, I want it still." "Cyn, do you remember when your Mom gave us this, you swore you'd put it in the trash right away? That was 10 years ago!" Friends claimed a few special items to remind them of Cynthia or Mirabai and of the Savoring: colorful blouses and skirts, thumb-worn books, old beach shells, a big painting Mirabai had made in younger days. Judith took home four boxes of assorted stuff that nobody wanted, from pots to clothes to books, to bring the next day to the Swap Room at the Community Center.

When they went to bed that night, Cynthia kissed Mirabai and welcomed her into her freer life, and Mirabai kissed Cynthia and welcomed her into the time of discovering her power. And they went to sleep. .

- anonymous author


© 1990-2005, More Than Money, All rights reserved