Knowing you’ve got enough

I read Bob Sutton‘s blog on a regular basis. Today I discovered that he shares my enthusiasm for Kurt Vonnegut. In a recent post he talks about how he wrote to an anonymous address at The New Yorker to ask Vonnegut if he could use one of his poems,”Joe Heller” in his book,”The No Asshole Rule”. To his pleasure and surprise he received a delightful post card,designed by Vonnegut, giving him permission to use the poem,”however you please without compensation or further notice to me”.
In the poem Vonnegut tells of how he went to a party given by a billionaire with Joseph Heller.
“I said, “Joe, how does it make you feel
to know that our host only yesterday
may have made more money
than your novel ‘Catch-22’
has earned in its entire history?”
And Joe said, “I’ve got something he can never have.”
And I said, “What on earth could that be, Joe?”
And Joe said, “The knowledge that I’ve got enough.”

A while back I posted a longish quote from Gregory Bateson on a similar theme. I’ll repeat the beginning of the quote here:
“… Desired substances, things, patterns, or sequences of experience that are in some sense “good” for the organism – items of diet, conditions of life, temperature, entertainment, sex, and so forth – are never such that more of the something is always better than less of the something. Rather, for all objects and experiences, there is a quantity that has optimum value. Above that quantity, the variable becomes toxic. To fall below that value is to be deprived.”
Vonnegut and Bateson, two very different, but both wise men, giving us something to ponder on when the itch of “more” is troubling us.