When Stuff Is Not Enough


I took a picture of a peacock feeding on the lawn

In the Dominican Republic a while back

Self-portrait you could say as in

Aren’t all the things we see

Mere projections of ourselves

No two ways about it said Krishnamurti

Yet I’d gone to that resort to find myself

Not bring myself along

I hadn’t gone to nearby Haiti

To shoot Uncle Gunnysack

Or a voodoo priestess in top hat and whiteface

I hadn’t gone to the Yucatan to ponder

Mayan hieroglyphs

I hadn’t gone to Cuba to drink rum

Maybe I should have stayed at home

Shoveling snow in February

Walking my dog in the blue dark of early morning

Crumpling newspaper to stoke my wood stove

A news feature might have caught my eye

Instead of a peacock with ragged tail feathers

A story about an eminent psychologist

Researching happiness in twelve languages

He’d made his journey to find

Not himself but what made people smile inside

Was it ever possible he wondered

To be happy and cause no pain to others

Or is all mirth schadenfreude

I remember hearing Nancy Aronie say

The best laughter is at your own expense

Saving up embarrassment and shame

Like pennies in the belly of a pig

One day will oink dividends of joy

What sends a man around the world

In search of happiness

A child holds in the palm of her tiny hand

And her grown up parents squander

Don’t you sometimes wonder

What’s enough

Just the right amount of stuff and time

To make the most of it or leastwise

Share with someone else

I took a picture of a peacock feeding on the lawn

When I was alone

There was no you no Catholic no Jew

No French nor Russian Republican

No colors on a map no tattoo

No other vegetarians I could see but me

So I ate fish and coconuts

Meditating reading walking the beach

Remembering to smile

I whiled away the days doing little else

It was enough

I forgot myself I forgot my stuff


— Michael G. West

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