Sometimes when I’m engaged in a meditative process like weeding, doing dishes or milking the cow, my otherwise-unengaged brain cells turn to rumination. In this case, I was ruminating on enough, more and too much. When do you need more? When does more become enough? What happens when enough becomes too much? How can you predict the future so that you know how much is enough (and if you figure out how to do that one consistently, let me know!)? There are practical considerations to this enough/more/too much equation. For example, if you have too much, what do you do with it? Is it better to plan your life around enough, or should you have a little cushion of more so you have enough in cases of disaster or to share with friends and relations?
That’s what happens when you ruminate — at least when I ruminate — you wind up with lots of questions; when the cows ruminate, they turn green grass into manure. Which is not necessarily a bad thing, as manure is vital to fertilize the garden so you can grow more. However, I digress (I do that a lot).
Most of these ruminations revolve around food production, since I spend a good chunk of my days growing, milking, processing and preserving food, either in the hands-on direct sense of putting seeds in the ground, watering and weeding, or in the indirect sense by feeding my animals hay or bringing home the food scrap bucket from the local school.
Take gardening as an example. When you start your own plants for transplants or direct seed into the garden, how do you decide whether you have enough to make up for the vagaries of poor germination, hailstorms, disease or the cat that jumps on the seedling table and sends a tray crashing to the ground? Experience helps. I know, for example, that whatever the seed packet says about the germination rate, odds are high it will be different in my garden. Usually that means it will be lower — not a lot, maybe 70 percent instead of 80 percent. But that means if I want to have 12 tomato plants, I need to put at least 16 seeds in the pots, because a 70 percent germination rate means only 8.4 of the 12 seeds I’ve sown will grow. And since I’ve never been able to figure out how to plant 0.4 of a seed, I need to add at least one more to cover the fraction of a seed.
See? Plant more in order to have enough. And if I’ve guessed wrong or the germination rate is much better, and all 17 actually germinate, what do I do with the extras? My garden space is finite, and so are my time and energy. So I plant more in order to have enough, and when I have too much, I give them away or sell them.
So, OK, I think we’ve developed some basic principles here:
1. Make sure you have enough, which you determine through careful research, thought and experience. And remember, we’re talking about what you NEED here, not what you WANT — they’re very different.
2. Plan to have more for a little cushion, because we all know things can go wrong.
3. When you have too much, share. Or sell, but I think sharing should come first.
4. Apply these precepts to your finances, your garden and the rest of your life.
Pretty good life plan, I’d say.