How much is too much of a good thing?


There’s a late-blooming lilac bush that grows near the corner of our back deck. As soon as its blossoms begin opening, its lush fragrance becomes the dominant scent in the garden. I cut some of the earliest flowers to bring inside, burying my nose in their pale purple sweetness. They are short-lived, blooming barely two weeks, and when cut last only a day or two indoors. I wish it could be longer.


As more of the panicles open to the sunshine I marvel at the perfumed bounty and snap photos for my garden notebook.


Then I begin noticing how the bush is drooping under the weight of its own generosity. My husband takes a sturdy tie-down strap and binds some of the branches to the deck for support. But this morning I discover yet another portion has collapsed.


I’ve always encircled our peonies with a supporting wire ring. The clematis vine and climbing hydrangea both require a trellis. But the lilac? Its old-fashioned sturdiness has never asked for any special care. I’ve taken it for granted and the decade-old beauty is now paying the price.  Its winter-damaged branches can’t cope with this affluence.


It has me musing about the affects of abundance in other areas of life. People like to say you can never have too much money. On Facebook there’s no such thing as too many friends. On the TV this morning a realtor in Toronto describes how, despite the current economic slowdown, the sale of multi-million dollar homes is on the upswing—he’s sold four of them in one day.


My friend sometimes reminds me to be careful about what I wish for; it may come true in ways I couldn’t have imagined.  It’s not wrong to wish or to dream. If we never dream we will never reach. If we never reach we will never achieve.  But what is the measure of satisfaction in today’s world? We’re a society that equates contentment with ownership—ownership of possessions, of opportunities, of rights. How do we know where the line is drawn? How much is too much of a good thing? And who do we depend on to support us when our abundance becomes a burden?


I have made, and I will bear; I will carry and I will save.   (Isaiah 46:4b)

Blessed be the Lord, who daily bears us up.   (Psalm 68:19a) 



Published by Carol

A freelance writer of fiction and non-fiction living on the West Coast of Canada.

4 thoughts on “How much is too much of a good thing?

  1. This is a beautiful post. The hubby and I find ourselves constantly trying to simplify, but it’s an ongoing process. Like your lilac bush, it’s hard to know you have too much until the having begins to wear on you.

  2. I love that verse in Psalm 68 — I think it’s the “daily” part, that assurance of his constant support and care, day in and day out.

    Also, your comments about your lilac bush reminded me that I meant to tell you my baby lilac survived its first (rather harsh) winter and has blooms on it. Yay!

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