You know how certain words seem to sum up where you are at any given point in life?
Our lives have tended to swing between a couple: adventure and stability.
Our life at Beacon Hill Friends House feels like an unusual balance of the two, prompting a new word: Enough.
Not only enough adventure and enough stability, but enough of most of the elements that go into each: enough new, enough familiar; enough fun, enough work; enough easy, enough hard.
Not that we’ve got it all worked out. This week finds us still wrestling with a question Carol posed in this space a few months ago: Keep or sell the car?
That would be a foolish question in several places we’ve lived, especially Florida. But life with the MBTA rumbling beneath the house (the Red Line between Park and Charles Street stations) frames the question in larger terms.
The combination of our senior citizen T passes (just a buck a ride as opposed to $2.50) and those Zipcars stashed along the Green Line suggests we may have quite enough transportation at our disposal without the hassle of maintaining a car on Beacon Hill.
There may be enough resident parking places available for people willing to fight for them and/or in critical need of a personal vehicle. Perhaps not enough parking places for people — like us — with workable alternatives.
Enough has also emerged as the critical metric of shelter. Is our one-room-toilet-down-the-hall arrangement enough space? Enough convenience? A couple of recent New York Times pieces spanned the range of what’s enough: this piece summed up by the headline, “Freedom in 704 Square Feet,” and this piece about a 9,000 square foot home as the centerpiece example of “Big is Back.”
Closer to home, the Boston Globe fronts an article this morning about a condo just a few doors down from BHFH on Chestnut Street: “For Trinity Church rector, a $3.6 million home.”
Not that long ago, my assessment of these housing options would have been fueled by moral judgment. These days, I find myself asking a question instead: “What’s enough?” There are wildly different answers to that question for each of the people profiled in the three articles, of course.
Increasingly, we find ourselves answering the “enough” question with other questions: If we have this much physical space, for example, does that leave enough psychic space for us to live the lives we want to live?
The risk of having “more than enough” — of space, food, you name it — is the likelihood of throwing your life out of whack. In this context, the idea of “good enough” doesn’t connote settling; it connotes calibrating.
Increasingly, we’re discovering that less is more when it comes to the enough question.
To offer just one example, there’a something about living in a smaller space that prompts talk of bigger topics.
Our friend, Julie Moos, posed a question on Facebook yesterday with a link to this New York Times essay about keys to a successful long-term marriage, “Good enough? That’s Great.”
“Long-time marrieds,” Julie asked, “what do you think?”
Coming up on 44 years married, I guess we qualify. My response to that headline: Exactly right.
What word characterizes your life these days?