Satisfied, satisfactory, content, not striving or restless, unwilling to buy into the gospel of scarcity, a recognition of precarity and the need to share not hoard resources, sufficient. Good enough. Exasperation, refusal, a line in the sand. Almost, approximate.

(note on good enough: for later, see From the Right Action to Human Flourishing: On Howard J. Curzer’s “Virtue Ethics for the Real World”)

Close Enough / Approximate

I am much less bothered by not knowing, or not quite knowing or roughly/approximately knowing. Not exactly but mostly, almost but never completely. Part of the picture, but never the whole thing. I’ve been writing a lot about bewilderment and unknowingness. This not quite knowing is not bewilderment but something else. Not wild, not lost, but not found either.

Definitions, Expressions, Words
  • Not quite
  • Roughly, rough estimate
  • Not exactly
  • Almost 
  • Partly but not wholly, not completely
  • Just above or just below (the water) but not fully either
  • “like the book next to the book that you took from the library shelf” (Paul Hall)
  • marginally, on the margin
  • peripheral
  • a guess, a clue, but not the answer
  • no words only metaphors, attempts to describe, circling around
  • vague
  • in the right zip code or area code
  • in the ballpark
  • close enough for jazz
  • close but no cigar
  • by and large
  • as a rule
  • for all intents and purposes
  • indicates an unwillingness to commit (you give an approximate answer, because you don’t want to be responsible for what you’ve said)
  • not the real fish (Anne Sexton)
  • not quite real, not quite pretend, a fake or copy
  • semblance
  • insubstantial, or not fully substantial or lacking some amount of substance
  • apparition (ghost, ghostlike image of a person)
  • more than, not just this, not only that
  • not about this but something else (Nazim Hikmet)
  • never arriving
  • looping around, orbiting
  • telling it slant, concealing the full truth
  • shifting, changing
  • fuzzy, unformed or not yet formed
  • in-between–a different sort of space
  • in transition–a different type of time
The Demon Cat with approximate knowledge / I’m in my element!!!

Satisfied / Content

Enough/ Jeffrey Harrison

It’s a gift, this cloudless November morning
warm enough to walk without a jacket
along your favorite path. The rhythmic shushing
of your feet through fallen leaves should be
enough to quiet the mind, so it surprises you
when you catch yourself telling off your boss
for a decade of accumulated injustices,
all the things you’ve never said circling inside you.

The rising wind pulls you out of it,
and you look up to see a cloud of leaves
wheeling in sunlight, flickering against the blue
and lifting above the treetops, as if the whole day
were sighing, Let it go, let it go,
for this moment at least, let it all go.

Terns/ Mary Oliver

Don’t think just now of the trudging forward of thought,
but of the wing-drive of unquestioning affirmation.

It’s summer, you never saw such a blue sky,
and here they are, those white birds with quick wings,

sweeping over the waves,
chattering and plunging,

their thin beaks snapping, their hard eyes
happy as little nails.

The years to come — this is a promise —
will grant you ample time

to try the difficult steps in the empire of thought
where you seek for the shining proofs you think you must have.

But nothing you ever understand will be sweeter, or more binding,
than this deep affinity between your eyes and the world.

The flock thickens
over the roiling, salt brightness. Listen,

maybe such devotion, in which one holds the world
in the clasp of attention, isn’t the perfect prayer,

but it must be close, for the sorrow, whose name is doubt,
is thus subdued, and not through the weaponry of reason,

but of pure submission. Tell me, what else
could beauty be for? And now the tide

is at its very crown,
the white birds sprinkle down,

gathering up the loose silver, rising
as if weightless. It isn’t instruction, or a parable.

It isn’t for any vanity or ambition
except for the one allowed, to stay alive.

I kept as still as I could. Nothing happened. I did not expect anything to happen. I was something that lay under the sun and felt it, like the pumpkins. And I did not want to be anything more. I was entirely happy. Perhaps we feel like that when we die and become part of something entire, whether it is sun and air, or goodness and knowledge. At any rate, that is happiness; to be disolved into something complete and great.

My Antonía/ Willa Cather
the ones who stay :: faith shearin

There are the ones who leave and the ones who stay,
the ones who go to war and the ones
who wander the silent streets, waiting

for news. There are the ones who join the circus
or go on safari: the explorers, the astronauts,
then there are the people who never leave

their first neighborhood, their first house.
Odysseus spent years trying to come home
but Penelope never left. He was seduced

by women with islands and sung to by sirens;
he held the wind in a bottle. But Penelope
slept differently in the same bed, weaving

and unweaving the daily details while men
she did not love gathered in her kitchen.
Her face grew thinner, her son grew taller.

Is that a journey? The ones who leave
come back with stories: an excitement
in their eyes. But the ones who stay

witness little changes: dust, weather, breath.
What happens to them happens so slowly
it seems not to be happening at all.

the ones who stay/witness little changes: dust, weather, breath. I like being one who stays. I like tracking the subtle changes of dust, weather, and breath. I write about them a lot on this log. And, I like how doing this tracking is enough for me. Through it, I am satisfied — that’s no small achievement.

from “Gravel” in The Leaf and the Cloud/ Mary Oliver

It is the nature of stone
to be satisfied.
It is the nature of water
to want to be somewhere else.

hum/ mary oliver

What is this dark hum among the roses?
The bees have gone simple, sipping,
that’s all. What did you expect? Sophistication?
They’re small creatures and they are
filling their bodies with sweetness, how could they not
moan in happiness? The little
worker bee lives, I have read, about three weeks.
Is that long? Long enough, I suppose, to understand
that life is a blessing. I have found them-haven’t you?—
stopped in the very cups of the flowers, their wings
a little tattered-so much flying about, to the hive,
then out into the world, then back, and perhaps dancing,
should the task be to be a scout-sweet, dancing bee.
I think there isn’t anything in this world I don’t
admire. If there is, I don’t know what it is. I
haven’t met it yet. Nor expect to. The bee is small,
and since I wear glasses, so I can see the traffic and
read books, I have to
take them off and bend close to study and
understand what is happening. It’s not hard, it’s in fact
as instructive as anything I have ever studied. Plus, too,
it’s love almost too fierce to endure, the bee
nuzzling like that into the blouse
of the rose. And the fragrance, and the honey, and of course
the sun, the purely pure sun, shining, all the while, over
all of us.

I love the line: “the bees have gone simple, sipping.” 

Mary Oliver has been criticized for being too simple or R/romantic, not poetic enough, too accessible. And, in the years before her death, she was often not taken seriously. I love Mary Oliver and when I read this poem I don’t think of it as an “easy” romantic poem just about how great bees are. This poem is the declaration of someone who has done and is still doing the very difficult work of learning how to notice and love the world–every bit of it, no matter how small or how broken (here I’m thinking of her line in “Invitation”–“believe us, they say,/ it is a serious thing/just to be alive/on this fresh morning/in this broken world”). She writes:

I think there isn’t anything in this world I don’t
admire. If there is, I don’t know what it is. I
haven’t met it yet. Nor expect to.

That’s impressive and something I aspire to. For several years now, I’ve been working to find delight in these small moments, to recognize them as enough, more than enough, to make life fulfilling, to ensure flourishing. I’m getting closer, but I’m not there yet. There are things I don’t admire and, too often lately, I’ve thought about them more than the things I do admire (from RUN! log entry on 2 april 2021).

Shifting away from comparison and competition

“Enough” is a concept that I need to do some more work on, though, in a bunch of different aspects of my life. It’s a measure that too often has more to do with some invidious comparison with other people than it does with an internally focused sense of who I am and what I want to do. 

And I’m now wondering how this sense of enough, of focusing on what I genuinely want to accomplish rather than on how people will see those accomplishments, might affect other parts of my life. How might freeing myself from the need to compete with others change the ways I approach my work? How can I begin figuring out what’s enough for me?

Enough/ Kathleen Fitzpatrick
That’s Enough!

see: From the Right Action to Human Flourishing: On Howard J. Curzer’s “Virtue Ethics for the Real World”

Radiation Prayer/ Katie Farris

Given the unexpected choice between
uncertain death and certain damage,
I find in the mirror a woman–breastless, burned–who,
in an advisory capacity,
asks, “How much do you
want to live?”


O God of Radiation,
let your light
like a ship pass through me,
your radiance exposing
enough of what’s inside me
like film a god takes–

but must you clatter the eaves
of my scapula, scurry
the grasshopper nest of my heart, scythe my nerves
like grass and cobweb my muscles
to the rung
of my ribs? How much more can one body take?

Light every deadly cell like a wick
burning in the paper lantern of my chest–
my chest, a thing
so ephemeral
yet held so firmly in your fist.

Oh–that enough, which I initially read as enough to choose the damage to prevent the chance of more cancer, but now realize it could also be a command: Enough. Too much. Stop. I can’t take anymore (from a RUN! log entry on 18 april 2021). 

Scarcity, Precarity, Gratitude

We’re operating inside the religion of Capitalism, whose gospel is that there is not enough.6 Capitalism preaches the gospel of scarcity and, as such, demands we see scarcity everywhere. And if scarcity is nowhere to be found, it will be imposed. Among those imposed scarcities—of health, of food, of clean water, of adequate shelter, of comfort, of community, of meaning, of a future—is that of time. And to believe otherwise—in enough, say; in abundance, say; in gratitude, say; in the unmitigated, unbounded hang, say!—makes you blasphemous. Or a heathen. Or a criminal. Or out of your goddamned mind.

Out of Time/ Ross Gay

We hear about precarity in the news every day. People lose their jobs or get angry because they never had them. Gorillas and river porpoises hover at the edge of extinction. Rising seas swamp whole Pacific islands. But most of the time we imagine such precarity to be an exception to how the world works. It’s what “drops out” form the system. What if, as I’m suggesting, precarity is the condition of our time–or, to put it another way, what if our time is ripe for sensing precarity? What if precarity, indeterminancy, and what we imagine as trivial are the center of the systematicity we seek?

Precarity is the condition of being vulnerable to others. Unpredictable encounters transform us; we are not in control, even of ourselves. Unable to rely on a stable structure of community, we are thrown into shifting assemblages, which remake us as well as our others. We can’t rely on the status quo; everything is in flux, including our ability to survive. Thinking through precarity changes social analysis. A precarious world is a world wihtout teleology.

Mushrooms at the End of the World/ Anna Lowenstein Tsing

Our first responsibility, the most potent offering we possess, is gratitude.

Now, gratitude may seem like weak tea given the desperate challenges that lie before us, but it is powerful medicine, much more than a simple thank you. Giving thanks implies recognition not only of the gift, but of the giver. When I eat an apple, my gratitude is directed to that wide-armed tree whose tart offspring is now in my mouth, whose life has become my own. Gratitude is founded on the deep knowing that our very existence relies on the gifts of other beings. The evolutionary advantage for cultures of gratitude is compelling. This human emotion has adaptive value because it engenders practical outcomes for sustainability. The practice of gratitude can, in a very real way, lead to the practice of self-restraint, of taking only what you need. Naming and appreciation of the gifts that surround us creates a sense of satisfaction, a feeling of “enoughness” that is an antidote to the societal messages that drill into our spirits, telling us we must have more. Practicing contentment is a radical act in a consumption-driven society.

Returning the Gift“/ Robin Wall Kimmerer

Moss lifeways offer a strong contrast to the ways we’ve organized our society, which prioritizes relentless growth as the metric of well-being: always getting bigger, producing more, having more. Infinite growth is ecologically impossible and exceedingly destructive, as it demands the transformation of the lives of other beings into raw materials to feed the fiction. Mosses show us another way—the abundance that emanates from self-restraint, from enoughness. Mosses have lived too long on this planet to be seduced by the nonsense of accumulation, the delusion of permanence, the endless striving for productivity. Maybe our heartbeats slow when we sit with mosses because they remind us that contentment could be ours.

Ancient Green/ Robin Wall Kimmerer