Who Would You Be If You Were Already Enough?

Woman looking to sky

“You are the truth, from foot to brow. Now, what else would you like to know?” ~ Rumi

As our plane left the runway heading from Vancouver to Thailand for our six-week backpacking trip, I said a little prayer.

It went something like, “I’ll be honest, I’m searching for something profound on this trip, so is it too much to ask for some enlightenment to illuminate my way? And please, please keep these three boys and me safe.”

We’re back now, after a few harrowing and eye-opening experiences, a sea-full of adventure, and a lifetime’s worth of wild beauty. And perhaps, if it’s not too presumptuous to say, I return accompanied by at least a fragment of the enlightenment I requested.

I didn’t find it in the temples we prayed in, on our late night explorations of the beaches, in the jungles we paddled and hiked through, or on the mountains whose rock faces we climbed.

In fact, I didn’t find it at all. It found me. Or was it always there and I finally opened to seeing it? Was it by leaving my usual reality, with only the few belongings that fit in a backpack but took care of my needs as adequately as a houseful of stuff, that I was able to look on as a stranger peering in?

Whatever ushered in this understanding, when I did see it, my response was to scowl a bit and ask somewhat disdainfully, “I came all this way. Is this it?”

Because it was only a question. A question I had been asking myself quietly over the years, but was back now, crystalline in its clarity, loud and ringing as I looked at this woman: she, me, and realized that she had lived many years trying to be enough.

And the question.

“Who would you be if you were already enough?”

Enough as you are, right here, today.

Beyond all the goal setting, visioning, planning, and achieving.

If I listened to this voice, this understanding that I had at first shrugged off, when would I be enough, and who would I be then?

When is my body, in its exact shape, weight, and size, with every change that accompanies me as I age, enough?

When is my mind, and its gathering of thoughts, enough?

When are my belongings, the home I live in, the clothing I wear, all of my accumulations, everything I’ve given away, found, enough?

When are my relationships with my friends, partner, and loved ones enough?

When are my status, achievements, finances, all the identities I associate myself with in this physical world enough?

Who would I be, how would I feel, if I were already enough, even if just today?

I sat with that question. On stuffy midnight bus rides with travellers from all over the world crowded around me and my five-year-old sprawled asleep, arms awkwardly thrown overhead, legs across my lap.

In tuk tuks racing through Chiang Mai traffic while we sweat in the forty degree, humid air.

On beaches, while letting the waves crash into my legs, knock me down, and roll me across the sand, the insistent roar of the ocean outdoing the delighted screams of my children. And I just felt it. In my body. To be enough.

If this is what a slice of enlightenment feels like, I’ll take it.

Imagine what it would feel like to be okay, right here, at exactly this moment in life.

All that seeking, striving, wanting, worrying, fretting, getting, achieving, the best laid plans, the worst made choices, all those stories weve told ourselves about who we are and what weve done and who we will be—every single one of them, fading into the background and leaving for one moment, just you.

In a single exhalation. Just you.

How would you feel?

Who would you be?

These are questions speak to us from beneath and beyond this physical world we’ve constructed for ourselves, with its accumulating and performing.

I spent many years racing toward something.

At times the striving has come from a fear of being still. At times it has come from a fear of being insignificant, of not doing enough of the recognizable and outstanding. At times it has come from a fear of the ordinary. Yes, of being an ordinary human, with plain needs and ordinary, boring moments.

So I’ve sprinted from this thing to the next, achieving one more accolade, accomplishing one more item off the bucket list, accumulating just that much more stuff, more in relationships, more in my physical fitness, raising the bar, exceeding expectations. More. Losing some things, getting some others. And still, searching, and still, more.

But the problem is, once I got what I was seeking there was a fading feeling, and it was done and I wanted something else. Or worse, what I got simply disappointed.

And so I began again, planned again. Or, I should say, present tense: I begin again, plan again. But with a different tenor now.

I have shifted to the place where my beginning again, planning again, is a rebirth, and comes from a different sort of effort. The effort of the heart whose love I bathe in before I take action. The heart that whispers, “I am enough,” and not, “How can I measure up?”

It is the effort not of doing my life’s work, but my soul’s work.

And while I am doing, I am being; while I am using my practical tools like planning and visioning, I am asking this question, and this question keeps me centered, on purpose, and at least somewhat aware of my motivation for my actions.

Who would I be if I were already enough?

What if I unconditionally accepted myself, regardless of what I achieve, have, and do? Even in this world where we are continually measured and compared by those exact things?

What if I had nothing to prove? What action would I take now?

What if I understood that seeking worth outside myself will never satisfy—not me, or anyone else?

When I allow myself to understand that I am already enough—when I accept myself, my own humanity, foibles, needs, and insecurities, when I show myself unconditional love—then something magical begins to shift.

Then I feel at ease, at home in this body. Then I care for myself in a whole way, loving and nurturing with sacred goodness this body and spirit. Then everything I am, have done, or haven’t done, have accumulated or lost, it’s also enough.

Then I can give to others in the same way.

And then what? Whats left to do if were actually enough? Will all effective accomplishment disappear? Will we stagnate in inaction? If were already enough, why would we achieve or do anything?

For answers in this realm I turn to the wisdom of the Tao and its paradoxical unity. Verse after verse, it teaches the power of flow without striving, action without doing, and great accomplishment through just one step taken in a mindful way, today.

It reminds us of the extraordinary that lives in the ordinary and humble workings of each day, and of the strength of movement that emerges from stillness and propels us on our way forward. And always, it reminds us of fulfillment attained through serving others and selfless action.

And so grow quiet now for a moment, and ask yourself:

Who would you be if you were already enough?

Woman looking to sky image via Shutterstock

About Carla Poertner

Carla Poertner is a Certified Life Coach, writer, and mother of three boys. She is a Huffington Post blogger and Elephant Journal Columnist. You can get her e-guide, sign up for her free tele-classes and read her latest articles here on her blog carlapoertner.com.

See a typo or inaccuracy? Please contact us so we can fix it!