Good Enough

Lugnasa                                                                    Hiroshima Moon

When Kate and I visited our money in July, our financial planner, R.J. Devick, made an interesting observation.  Responding to the deluge of financial information–there are so many sources newsletters, private websites, newspapers, books, information services for financial professionals–he decided to have just four sources on which he relied, to the exclusion of the others.  I don’t recall the specific four, but they were high quality one private, one newspaper, one financial analysis group and something else.

He said he realized he could spend all his time reading and come away more confused.  Probably so.  There is, of course, a need, and I’m sure he does this, to check the continuing reliability of your sources, but overall this was an early information management strategy. Pare down your resources, make sure they’re high quality, then rely on them.

This struck me when Kate told me about seeing the quilt display at the MIA.  One of the artists dyed their own wool in slight gradations of hue in the same color, then used those variations as the design element in her quilts.  I asked Kate if she had any interest in learning to dye and she said no, quilting and piecing were what interested her.

Kate’s made a decision not unlike R.J.’s, an intentional choice to limit her range of interest in the service of getting higher and higher quality out of her work.  It’s a strategy some of the most creative folks apply, going back to the same well over and over again, though with infinite variation in treatment.

It may see obvious to you, probably does, but to me this is anathema.  And probably to my detriment.  I’ve written before about the valedictory life, the kind of life lived by valedictorians.  Once in awhile I check up on research about this topic because I was a valedictorian in the long ago faraway.  Mostly valedictorians don’t become famous experts, great writers or over achieving corporate climbers.

Why?  Because to be a valedictorian, you have to pay similar attention to all the classes that you take.  Or, at the least, in those classes that don’t come easiest, you still have exert enough effort to get an A or 4.0.  Apparently that style continues throughout life for most valedictorians.  That means we don’t achieve the kind of focus that designs the first computer, tracks down the most efficient way to manage information, builds the deep knowledge to become an artisan in cloth or paint.

Nope, we’re happily reading Scientific American, being a docent at a museum, writing a novel, translating Latin, putting in a vegetable and flower garden, doing all of these things at a reasonably high level but not high enough to stand out.  This is a hard life to accept, in one way, when achievement has been important, but it tends to not be the type of world beater achievement others expected.  On the other hand it meshes pretty well with the good enough life.  Good enough.

This entry was posted in Art and Culture, Family, Memories, Retirement, Translating Metamorphoses, Writing. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.