When she was a young hippie, my wife had a heated discussion with her Uncle Paul, at the time the head of the Drama Department at Wellesley College. The spark that got things going was the familiar saying “Enough is as good as a feast.” Uncle Paul insisted that a feast was, by definition, excessive and thus went well beyond making do and being satisfied, i.e., having enough. Cedar countered that even the greatest feast can’t do more than bring you contentment with perhaps an upset stomach as a bonus. But, if you can get that same contentment without the upset stomach from an ordinary meal, that might be even better than a feast with its temptations to overindulge.
Biased though I am, I think Cedar got the better part of that argument. But in the Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave, enoughness, egged on by the siren calls of Madison Avenue, seems always just beyond reach, like the end of a rainbow. When I was a kid in the '40s, being a millionaire seemed like the be-all and end-all. Grown-ups whispered with big eyes about so and so who had just made a million dollars and was planning a cushy retirement. By the time I was in college, the whispered term became “multi-millionaire.” And when I retired from a full-time career, the term of art had become “billionaire.” Millionaires were now a dime a dozen, their millions seeming like chump change in the new era of opulence.
For better or worse, and probably for worse, never having enough is a disease spread by uncontrolled capitalism. Losers in such a society are those who toil for hourly wages, the Welfare poor, and worst of all, those who have opted out of ever-increasing acquisition as the golden road to happiness. The last group become the benighted followers of such “socialists” of the hour as Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren. It’s a wonder they’re not immigrants!
But the proverb doesn’t equate enoughness with the ability to indulge in feasts. It merely implies that blessed are those not driven by an insatiable desire for more things, more money, more power, and more status but are satisfied with sufficient resources; happy, healthy families; meaningful work; a strong network of friends; and a transformative inner life leading to ongoing personal development. All that would surely be enough. Who would need a feast?