I saw a coconut water vendor by the sidewalk today, and I thought I'd get my water bottle refilled to reduce plastic waste. He sold one cup for ten pesos. The refill was about a cup and a half, and I gave him twenty pesos and started to walk away. He called me back and insisted I take the five peso change. "Hindi maganda ang sobra", he said. It translates to: Excess is not good.
That made me think. What a nugget of wisdom. We live in a world of excesses. Most people want more money, more clothes, more shoes, more cars, more vacations, more titles. The most popular board game, Monopoly, encourages this mindset too. I played it recently with friends and we all realized how oppressive and frighteningly realistic the rules of the game were. You win by taking away from others. You are successful when you wipe out other players. You are savvy when you know when to use your cards.
And here is a man who did not have much but did not want more. He did not see excess as an opportunity as most of us do when we daydream of winning the lottery. He saw excess as a liability.
He was right. Excess is not good. As Gandhi-ji said, "We have enough for everyone's need but not for everyone's greed". We may think many of our choices are personal and do not affect others. But they always do.
I jokingly tell my friends that I am a poor yoga teacher, and sometimes I even believe I am. It seems ridiculous now, that I consider myself poor by the standard that I have to work hard and struggle and find ways to go to New York to study with my teachers. I definitely have enough. I even have an excess of yoga pants.
It is humbling to think of the many ways I have overlooked the excesses in my life. I can argue that my veganism is efficient and saves a lot more resources, but I also do not need an embarrassing number of vegan candy bars to be shipped to me halfway across the world. I can point out that I teach so many classes I am sometimes deprived of sleep, but it is hardly slavery, though I joke about that too. I do have enough time, because all of the time I have are used one way or another to live the life that I love.
Excess is not good. And perhaps it is when we realize this that we can be unconditionally grateful that we have enough. Because having enough for the present moment is a gift to the present moment. And if we have excess, be it money or time or love, we have the opportunity to give it to others. All we ever need is enough.