When do you have enough?

I’ve been mulling over this ever since I watched the Premiere of Morgan Spurlock’s 30 Days. In the first episode of 30 Days, Spurlock & his fiancée live on minimum wages for a month. It’s an eye-opening experience. I have no doubts that I will not survive such a life style. The sheer physical labor (waiting tables / washing dishes / yard work) is something that my body cannot take. I sound a complete snob when I say this – but it is the truth. I can peck away at a keyboard for 14 hours, longer if need be. But ask me to use a spade for 2 hours, and my arms are sure to fall apart. And you have no health insurance if your arms do fall apart.

I felt enormously guilty about every shopping spree I’ve indulged in – buying item after utterly unneeded, unnecessary item. There are people in this world who don’t know where their next meal is coming from, and here, I’d just blown $45 on a meal for two!

After guilt, came fear. What if, someday, I did become as poor as that? How would I survive? The little voice in my head that said that you’ve spent 19 years of your life acquiring an education to ward off (well, at least a little bit) against such a possibility was resolutely ignored. I even felt angry – here was one more thing to my already long list of bad what-if’s – what if I never get a job that I genuinely love, what if I never see Florence or the Pyramids, what if I never fall in love and oh so much more…I now had to start worrying about what if I hit penury instead of pay dirt? I felt very old, and very tired.

When do you say I have enough? Because in this world, you go straight from Morgan Spurlock to the Travel section of the Sunday Times – a world that fills me with longing, and tells me that I most certainly do not have enough – not till I have holidayed in Morocco or driven through wine country in Austria… Surely, as Gecko says, “Greed is good.” Yes, I have heard ALL about happiness being inside of you. But unfortunately, I am still a very long way from internalizing those oft-heard moral tales. Besides which, if I cease to want, will I also lose the will to live? Frankly, the dream of an azure Mediterranean beach (even if this may be a good 30 years away) is the ONLY thing that helps me through a working week end (like the present one).

Balance – a concept that seems almost impossible to achieve. When do you cross the line between ambition and greed? Between being content and vegetating?

A very wise friend recently told me that a great job, the love of your life or a winning lottery ticket could well be just around the corner. Perhaps wisdom, too, is just around the corner. In the meanwhile, I’ll continue to compensate every great meal with an equally intense attack of guilt.

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