Moonlighting: Good Enough

March 23, 2012

 

Judy Cools

By JUDY COOLS

mcp blogger

 

 

This world where we live isn’t simply black-and-white, right and wrong, good and bad. Yet some will try to stamp every decision we make as either Divine Perfection or Mortal Failure. Open up, people, and embrace the in-betweens! Life is a process. It’s full of shifting priorities, vanishing opportunities, and time – which by the way, moves only forward.

 

If I spend a few minutes on the treadmill, is it really necessary for me to feel like a failure because it wasn’t more? The reality is that a couple months ago, I didn’t even know how to turn the thing on. I’ll give myself credit for progress, not for perfection. Life doesn’t have to be either/or.

 

Long ago in another life, in another place, I had a friend who wanted to be the best at whatever she tried. I don’t mean her personal best. I mean Blue Ribbon best. If she couldn’t win the prize, she didn’t want to play. She would cheat at a friendly game of cards because she was so driven to win. If it was something she didn’t care about (cooking) she only did the minimum just to get by. I once accused her of standing beside her husband at night, trying to brush her teeth better than he did. Everything with her was a competition: Divine Perfection or Mortal Failure.

 

Y’know….also in life there is the territory known as “Good Enough.” It doesn’t mean second best, or compromise. It isn’t a disguise for failure. I took great pleasure in finding the Good Enough territory, as I was once far more driven about finding perfection than I am today. Good Enough means you can fill the bird feeder and hang it back out, even if you could have squeezed in another cup of seed if you fussed with it. Birds, I have found, are not judgmental.

 

Things can always get better without having to be perfect. A closet can be cleaner than it used to be. A yard can be beautiful without professional landscaping. The laundry can be “done” without remembering every towel, or finding every sock. We should be able to read a book or an article and enjoy it, even if we haven’t prepared for an oral presentation.

 

Across-the-board perfection isn’t worth what that last few percent of effort can do to a person, or to their loved ones. Understand, I’m not advocating laziness, just offering a caution about obsession.

 

Take for example, the Spanish language. I’ve studied it off and on for years, but I’m embarrassingly bad at speaking it. I can be in Mexico, say please and thank you, and order a sandwich sin cebolla and be content. But I would struggle mightily to carry on conversation at a party. Not Divine Perfection for my speaking Spanish. But neither is it Mortal Failure, because I got my sandwich without onions. Good Enough.

 

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