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On a recent trip to Florida, we took a water taxi ride along an intracoastal waterway that was lined with luxury yachts. One particular yacht was named “Never Enough.” The name has intrigued and troubled me since I saw it. Was it a statement of possession, as in, one can never have a big enough yacht, car, house, or collection of stuff? Was it a statement of dissatisfaction, as in, no matter what you do, it’s never enough? Was it a statement of aspiration, as in, keep working toward more because whatever you’ve achieved, you can always achieve more?

I don’t own a yacht or aspire to possess one nor do I have any idea about the person who owned that particular yacht or their frame of mind in naming it. Perhaps the name was a bit of playful meaninglessness, though I suspect that those who own multi-million dollar yachts don’t name them lightly. Maybe that beautiful craft was part of a larger collection and “Never Enough” reflected the vision of a collector who hoped to build on his or her fleet. I suppose the possessing and naming of such things reflects much about the person who owns them.

When I was 20 years old, I created a list entitled “Goals, Aspirations, Possessions” which summarized a collection of achievements, experiences, and acquisitions that I hoped for my life. Every so often I find that list, now looking quite old and worn, and consider it relative to the passing of the 32 years since it was written. Some items make me smile as they are no longer relevant but most remain priorities for me.

Some of the items on the list related to things I would own. Curiously, I lost interest in most of those items long before I had the resources to acquire them. I must confess that there were no yachts on the list. There was one related to “worth,” however, I still don’t know what a billion dollars would look like. I suppose it might look like “Never Enough.”

Interestingly, most of the 22 items on the list were less about things and more about what I wanted my life to look like or how I wanted to live. Number 1? A healthy family. Number 5? My own company. Number 14? To be generous to those less fortunate than I. Number 20? Intelligent, generous, and selfless, children. Reading it now, I realize that my 20 year old self wanted it all and had a pretty clear sense for what “all” meant to him.

We all live through “never enough” moments in our lifetimes. I certainly have. Never enough success. Never enough money. Never enough attention. Never enough stuff. Never enough recognition. I suppose some of us struggle with never enough as it relates to our yachts. Let’s face it, after we address the basics: food, shelter, clothing, we pretty much enter the racetrack of never enough. Speeding along toward more, we jockey for position and possession in the endless circle of desire centering our lives. We are conditioned for that race.

My 20 year old self was plenty materialistic. Why wouldn’t he be? Those are the measures of success, right? However, something else also called to him and I am so very grateful. Along with a bit of materialism, the buckets for a good life included family, vocation, prosperity, faith, impact, and fulfillment. Not bad.

Of course, he failed miserably in every category along the way. Not failure in an absolute way, but the failure of living to his own standard of aspiration. The path was marked by fits and starts, backtracks and redirects. The way was restless and searching. The journey wound through mistakes, misreads, misunderstandings, and sometimes misery. It also moved in and around incredible joy, peace, surprise, and satisfaction. That young man wandered from frustration to fulfillment and back again. Many times.

Each of us wants it all. But what “all” means to each of us varies. Or maybe all doesn’t vary so much as how we prioritize our own version of it. Priorities that might wander wildly over the course of our lifetime. I’m certain that feeling “never enough” about one’s yacht doesn’t mean one doesn’t love his or her family. However, it might mean that choices along the way may have reflected competing priorities. Those are the places we falter.

And here we are, one more day. The list remains and choices lie before us. We still want it all, but what will “all” mean today? Will it be “never enough” or something less grasping? When tomorrow comes, will we thank our younger self or cringe at our foolishness? Though the answer will likely be “yes” to both, we can continue to aim with intention.

Knowing we will stumble along the way, we can still work to be better. With effort, we may begin to realize that we don’t always need more but we can always be more. Perhaps, with a bit of introspection, we can stop grasping for more for ourselves while working to do more for others.

For me, never enough now centers on the good I can do and the man I might be. A place where I can truly claim those two words. I still want it all but my all doesn’t center on me the way it once did. At least that’s what I’m working toward. I will continue to falter, fail in my good intentions, and fall short of my best self. Then, I’ll get back up and try again. Perhaps that is enough.

Comments
  • Shari Frank
    Reply

    Phil,

    Once again, excellent message! Thanks for sharing your insight and wisdom so freely with all of us.

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