You are Enough
Updated: Jan 26, 2022
“The mystery of life isn't a problem to solve, but a reality to experience.” ― Frank Herbert, Dune
I’ve had almost 70 conversations for my podcast, Behind the Movement. I end each conversation full of wonder and reflection; thoughts that ooze into my life and practice. I bring a piece of every conversation, from these wise movers and groovers, with me as I facilitate my own workshops. Occasionally someone says something, a line or an idea, that I can’t get out of my head, like the McDonalds jingle. I end up repeating it constantly and look for ways to sneak it into conversations, using it as a gauge to measure where other people stand, or as a prompt to see where it leads the discussion. One of these phrases that rings in my head constantly is from Almog Loven, who I had on the podcast back in April. Almog is a professional dancer, teacher, and therapist from Israel. When I asked him what message he wished people would take from his workshops, he responded, “That you are enough.” Those words tattooed themselves onto my mind. But why? What is so powerful about these four words?
We are often made to feel like we aren’t enough. And, in spaces that we think will empower us, the message sometimes comes across as, “You’ll be enough someday.” It can be as material as not having enough things, to as deeply internal as not feeling like we’re enough to be loved. Sometimes it feels like we’re swimming in a pool of not enough. It seeps into our pores. We swipe credit cards left and right in the hopes of creating the right concoction goods and services to make us enough; a little of this product, a little of that guru, and a splash of worldliness. And then, after all that aspirational mixing, the glass of enough is still not filled. But what if we are enough right now? What if whoever, wherever, and however we are living is exactly as we should?
A great deal of suffering comes from our attempts to fill the glass of enough. We spend time judging who we are, rather than celebrating that we are. Judging causes us to time travel; dwelling and ruminating on the shoulds and shouldn’ts of our past and future. We use the term “growth”, to describe the characteristics of a fulfilling life; assuming that over time things are supposed to be more, bigger, and better. More money or skills, bigger house or muscles, and better cars or moves. This way of thinking keeps us in a perpetual feeling of not enough because there is always another rung up. When we say "bigger" or "better" we are talking about a feeling, not a quantifiable destination. As we continue to acquire in the name of more, the burden becomes heavier, as each acquisition must be permanent, lest we lose ground on the journey to filling the glass of enough. It’s a constant state of collecting and holding on. But we only have two hands and even the best cargo shorts have limited pockets.
Life doesn't have a constant upward trajectory, it's a squiggly line with twists, turns, and curly-Q’s. "Growth" isn't about getting better; it’s about living in a constant state of change. If I’d spent all my time holding on to previous versions of "better" in my practice, there wouldn't be any room for new things to emerge. If I held onto my handstand push-up and heavy back squat, I might not have had the space to learn to dance. If I hadn’t let go of training 5 hours a day, I wouldn’t have learned how to bake bread or had the time to sit and have a beer with Alexa. I don’t know if I can still do a muscle-up, haven’t practiced my handstand in a year and a half, and I can’t remember what a barbell feels like. Within some schools of thought, I've lost some of my moves, my glass of enough is further away from being full. But, letting things go doesn't equate to negative growth, it’s about welcoming change. A tree can’t hold on to all its leaves and branches forever. Some leaves must wither away to create space for new ones to flourish. We’re all in this ongoing state of change; from moment to moment; today to tomorrow; and birth to death. Like the tree, something is withering away, and something beautiful is sprouting. Don't get caught up on the withering or fixate on exactly how you think the budding should happen, be thrilled about the metamorphosis that’s unfolding.
This is also true of the stories we tell ourselves about who we are. If we hold on too tight to any of them, there is no room for new stories to emerge. For fear of becoming the dreaded hypocrite, we might even hold onto tales that completely oppose the direction we’re being drawn in. Always in flux, we are not nouns, stagnant and never changing. We are verbs. I am a verb. You are a verb. We are in a constant state of motion, action, and evolution. I think we go through a lot of turmoil attempting to hold onto moves and stories, trying to be nouns rather than verbs. Change is beautiful, and it might just be OK to be hypocritical from time to time. Adam “Ad-Rock” Horovitz of the Beastie Boys put it well, “I’d rather be a hypocrite than the same person forever.”
If we can agree that there is no elite peak of “growth”, and that we are a process of change, then maybe we can realize that wherever we are in the process is exactly where we’re supposed to be. Right now, you are perfect. And if we’re perfectly imperfect, then we are always enough.
I’m not against looking forward to tomorrow or reflecting on yesterday. These abilities help us navigate the bumpy road of life. I love taking classes and workshops that leave me with “things to work on”. However, the problem lies in confusing “things to work on” with needing to “work on me”. You can be enough and have things to work on. But rather than the success or failure of these workings defining us, perhaps they are just seeds being planted, watered and nourished, with the curiosity of how they’ll develop, if they sprout at all.
I often write about my friend Ruhbin who passed away in 2015. In many ways it’s my way of keeping him with me, but I am also constantly surprised by the lessons he continues to share with me despite not being here to speak the words himself. Every year I write a social media post to honor him, tell stories, and reflect on the ongoing lessons he shares with me. This year, having Almog’s words in mind, I discussed a bit of the consequences of not feeling like we are enough. My reflection went like this:
Ruhbin had experienced trauma in his life that left him feeling unworthy of help, support, and love. While he was always there for others, he refused to allow anyone to be there for him. He felt like he didn’t deserve to be loved or celebrated. He didn’t want to burden people with his pain or struggles because he thought he wasn’t enough. When I look back on our time together, I wish I’d told him as often as possible that he was enough and was worthy of the same selfless love he gave to all of us.
Ruhbin was perfect, but he didn’t know it. He was always enough. Not knowing this, not being told it or experiencing it, brought a great deal of pain and, I believe, contributed to his much-to-soon death.
Let's not get caught up on how great we think we’ll be someday, and celebrate how great we are today. Let's reduce judgement on others and ourselves by welcoming imperfection and impermanence. Ride the wave of change rather than chase the carrot of growth. Be verbs rather than nouns. Let people know that they are enough in all the different verbal and non-verbal ways it can be communicated. Talk, dance, and play. Every interaction is an opportunity to spread the word, even to people who don’t appear that they need to hear it.
Right now, in this very moment, you are enough.