When is enough, enough? I’ve been wondering that since a chance encounter I had when I first arrived in Austin. A friend of mine and I, bored of the party we were attending, jumped into Lake Travis and swam over to the private yachts doting the piers. We were hailed by a well-groomed man on his floating home, and boarding, were given the tour. The yacht was exquisite, yet the man seemed deeply unhappy and alone (hence the hail). Both of us were struggling financially at the time, and in merry abandonment, offered to take the weight of his wealth, of which he complained, off his hands. Immediately, his face closed, and grimly, he shook his head. While his extravagant wealth only opened him up to exploitation and misery, he could not see parting from it. He was addicted to his wealth.
What is gluttony? What is this addiction to the material that, particularly at this time of the year, consumes us. Given the amount I’ve recently consumed at the Thanksgiving dinner table, I’m not exempt. And I’ve got children in the family expecting their share on Christmas morning, so it’s definitely a family thing. When we crave the material past the point where it really satisfies us, that is my definition of gluttony.
I love celebrating abundance. Having plenty of what we need, and a touch of what we want, is something I hope for all of my clients, and in fact for the world. But there is a point where, if we are to maintain health, we must push ourselves away from the groaning board. We must deny Madison Avenue its satisfaction, and refuse to feed the addictions it profits from.
So this holiday season, make “enough” your favorite word. Enough food, enough gifting (and be broader with your thoughts of what “gift” means), enough music, enough socializing. And then, even though the offer always stands, say no more. And teach your friends and family the value of the same. If you feel a twinge of distress at going against the current, remind yourself that for many, “enough” is a fantasy. Instead of that one more gift, one more party, one more concert, find a way to lend a hand to these people, and revel in the spirit of generosity that is gluttony’s antidote.