A Lesson on 'Enough' That We Can All Learn from Love, Actually.

by Savannah Roach

A recent realization about lifestyle and priorities comes from an unexpected source: the British Christmas comedy Love Actually. Don’t mind the fact that I was watching it in August, I have always been of the opinion that Christmas lights deserve to left up all year long. 

Mark is in love with his best friend’s newlywed wife, Juliet. Infatuated. Head over heels. Unrequited. It’s Christmas Eve and it’s snowing and everyone is their homes sitting in front of their fireplaces, as they should be.  Showing up on Juliet’s doorstep amidst the lull of the snow-dusted streets and ‘Silent Night’ playing out of boombox he’s left at his feet, Mark begins a quiet and thoughtful silent monologue, humbly written out in sharpie on a set of white poster boards held in front of him. “Let me say, without hope or agenda, just because it’s Christmas (and at Christmas you tell the truth)...to me you are perfect.” Walking back down the alley he says quietly to himself, “enough.”

Enough. It is perhaps the biggest thing we can come to terms with when it comes to our individual actions. It’s recognizing the ‘too much’ in our lives and letting go of the excess. And I’m not just talking about love. 

It’s telling them (finally) that you love them and knowing when to walk away.

It’s consciously turning your phone off for the first time all year and realizing that you are in charge of your own accessibility.

It’s deciding not to add the work of another passion project (of the blog writing, app building, and kombucha brewing that you’ve already committed to) for the prospect of actually getting a full night’s sleep.

We are a culture burning at both ends of the candle, some all too conscious of our personal needs, and many all too oblivious. Often times, emotions are thrown to the wayside as we fill our days with trying to change the world and attaching meaning to our names. But as Brené Brown says, “It’s like those moving walkways at the airport - you’ve got to really pay attention when you get off them, because it’s disorienting. And when you’re standing still, you become very acutely aware of how you feel and what’s going on in your surroundings.”  It’s when we’re off of these walkways and on solid ground that we, like Mark, are able to say “enough”. 

No wonder we’re consciously committing to stressful, over-worked lifestyles. We have moved away from a society of mastery and into a norm of being mediocre at almost everything - chameleons or lost puppies? You decide. Because this generation so rarely become masters at one specific thing, we cling to productivity and connectivity to get those little hits of dopamine that make us feel good and tell our minds ‘you achieved something’. You can relate - walking through Whole Foods (not thinking about the paycheck you’re about to spend) and you see almond butter on the shelf. Remembering you need it, you type it into the list that’s in the ‘notes’ section of your phone, throw the jar in your cart, and proceed to delete almond butter off the list. It’s how we’ve learned to keep ourselves in order.  Emotions and feelings are scary, grocery lists not so much.

This world is throwing opportunities and possibilities and people at us quicker than we can process them. An eagerness to contribute and belong to a community leads to an ‘always yes’ philosophy and a dependence on those dopamine hits that come from making progress on these projects. Isn’t that what we’re all after, the security of belonging? Like Love Actually, our hearts crave a human connection to attach our emotional stability to. It’s not just the person we’re whispering ‘I love you’ to at night, it’s a connection with your entire tribe. Desperate to do so, we’re spreading ourselves thin. Because if it’s not another heart to connect to, we’ll find the next best thing. The bottle. Instagram. A jar of peanut butter. It stems from the place of fear that maybe, if we find ourselves in a moment of stillness, we might break break down...and then we text the first ten people in our message history, waiting for the response that reminds us “you’re not alone”. 

Recognizing that you’ve reached your personal threshold of ‘enough’ is the first step in beginning to be fully present - a clear-minded, worry-free, happy human. It’s what prepares us for the next time life knocks on the door with a larger than life opportunity.  It’s what makes us love harder, work passionately, make time for breakfast, call our parents, turn off our phones, prioritize, and spend a night at home amidst Christmas lights (and Love Actually, if you’re feeling festive) instead of packing in a schedule that makes bedtime the first time we can actually breathe all day. For Mark, ‘enough’ meant admitting to love.  For me, ‘enough’ means slowing down, literally and figuratively. For you, enough will be something completely different. We can only let ourselves go so far before we realize that recognizing it, making a change to bring us back down to earth, and letting ourselves be a little dependent on the people around us is not only an enticing option, it is the only option. Take a minute to just be. Recognize that thing that’s taken up so much space in your mental real estate that it’s permanent and actively change that - there is endless potential in every one of us for frequent bliss and uninterrupted happiness. Sometimes, you first just have to learn to say ‘enough’.