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It's almost Thanksgiving, and the Urban Man wants to make sure he has enough. Not just enough sweet potatoes and folding chairs, but enough of …everything.
Surely, that's the essence of any holiday. On a holiday you're supposed to say, "Dear Lord, whatever I have, for the next 24 hours, I will attempt satisfaction. I will call a halt to expectation. I will, in brief but genuine contentment, cease all efforts to get more."
Of course, how much is enough….exactly? If you point a video-cam at any American—rich or poor—this Thursday and ask, "What are you thankful for," you can be certain he or she will answer, "My spouse, my kids, my health," as if none of the rest mattered.
But if we've learned one thing in this country, it's that you do have to overshoot a little, just to be sure: Not just a marriage, but a perfect marriage. Not just health, but ceaseless beauty. Not just transportation, but large personal vehicles. Not just entertainment, but high def. Not just kids, but smart kids—each with a room, a PSP, and an offer from Yale.
Under that kind of pressure, it can be tough to get completely thankful. I mean…maybe you're renting, so you can't really be satisfied until you own. Maybe you drive an old clunker so you can't quite relax until you lease.
Maybe you're smart but uneducated; educated but under-employed; pulling in a decent wage but unable to advance.
Heck, maybe you're creative but not brilliant, brilliant but not svelte, svelte but not rich, rich but not famous. Maybe you're at the top of the heap, but it's not, you know, the right heap at all.
Americans have earned the unalienable right to pursue happiness…but I'm sorry to report that we are never allowed to have enough. Always, we find ourselves forced to live with insufficient talent, insufficient digital equipment, insufficient recreational vehicles, and insufficient time to use what we have. We try to be thankful, but second wives are insufficiently attentive, third husbands earn too little, and the step-kids don't always do so well on the SAT.
In fact, experts say it now takes precisely 32.7 times a mere sufficiency to be absolutely certain you have enough in America. Others say 33.
Of course, the numbers run much higher here on the West side of L.A. Here, we ask the really tough questions: If a person never makes the A-List, should he be happy on the B? Do you need an S-Class or can you make do with a C? Must you buy the original or will a numbered litho do? Should you build an architectural gem or would big be, well…enough?
Still come this Thursday, the Urban Man would enter into the spirit of the holiday and achieve complete satisfaction—if only for that magic 24 hours. Or at least, for that heavy half-hour following the traditional meal, when, after consuming 3.7 times as much food as I require, and after discussing the little victories and defeats of the year, I relax alone in an overheated living room and stare blankly at the ceiling as relatives watch the game on a large plasma screen in the next room.
At a certain moment I hope the sound of the TV will become a distant susurration, as of the sea, and some sufficient bliss may steal over my soul. If I have overdone everything correctly, I may find a brief freedom from desire—just as if I were a Tibetan monk who had fasted his whole life and then gone to sit ragged and cross-legged under a tree.
"Enough," I will say. "Wife, kids, health." For one moment, the Urban Man will have enough.
Have a great Thanksgiving.
Copyright © 2007 Marc Porter Zasada. All Rights Reserved.
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