I attended a funeral recently and was struck by two words in the eulogy, “just enough.” The reference to these two inconspicuous words was that Alan, who was being eulogized, was content with having just enough - just enough food, just enough shelter, just enough everything.
Alan was a simple man who lived an abundant life surrounded by family and life-long friends. He spent years working in a position at Walmart most of us would consider unglamorous or possibly even beneath us, but not Alan. He understood his worth and knew that his job had meaning; he made it great just by showing up.
Alan never had a significant girlfriend or family of his own. He lived his life under his sister and brother-in-law’s roof and was happy being an uncle to their three children and the children of his other siblings.
At age 55, Alan was one of the most content and happy individuals a person could meet. To Alan, he never needed anything beyond what he had. He didn’t long for things or money and preferred a road trip with family over a vacation to Disneyland or lavish cruise to the Bahamas. He was content with who he was and what he had in his life.
Some might consider Alan underachieved or perhaps dull. I consider Alan a great example of someone who lead an amazing life by being fulfilled with what he had. Alan did not care if the grass was greener on the other side because he never cared to look at the other side. Doing so would mean he was not happy with what he had and for Alan, what he already had was enough. He did not strive for greatness or a monetary legacy, as he knew what he had was worth more than either of those. And his outlook and way of life was only accentuated with his diagnosis of cancer.
There was a time in my own life where I only felt accomplished because I lived in a nice house filled with trinkets from places I had traveled around the world, where awards of past achievements and honors hung on the walls. I was fairly certain I could only prove my success by the luxury automobiles I had sitting in my driveway. All these things were wonderful and glamorous but never seemed quite as fulfilling as I imagined they might. And because of that, it didn’t seem to matter how many shiny new things I had, I was always restless, never quite fulfilled.
And then, my life and my perspective changed with three little words, “You have cancer.” The terminal kind. From that moment I stopped striving to put on an appearance for anyone, including myself. I no longer cared where I lived, just that I did. I didn’t care if my vehicle was purchased off a car lot or bought at a salvage yard and repaired. And I stopped allowing my job to define my worth.
As I sat in the pew in my little hometown church, focused on Alan’s life through his eulogy, I could not help but think about my own life and compare it to what was being said. I, like Alan, felt it was a blessing to know my time was limited. As with that knowledge comes the ability to understand the urgency of letting those you love know how you feel about them; to stop putting things off for another day. And with my diagnosis I came to understand what Alan exemplified through his entire life, that the real purpose of being here was to be kind to others and help make the world a better place without judgment, without prejudice and through love. I too had finally found that the true meaning of happiness was family and friends.
This simple man whose life had brought hundreds together at his funeral, was being remembered in a way that I hope to be remembered - not by the car I drove or the type of house I lived in, but on the impact I made on others. Like Alan, I want it to be said of me that I lived an abundant life with just enough.