This week I learned about good enough”. Or — I was reminded, yet again, of the concept of being good enough; perfectly imperfect.
Having a Good Enough life.
I feel, in a way, that this week at least, I was the white space of “good enough” in a painting drawn with intense, urgent lines and colors.
I listened to a podcast about working in an Amazon warehouse where injuries happen as humans struggle to assist highly efficient robots and can’t keep up the relentless pace.
As I listened, I was kind of lazily slopping paint on my front porch, thanking God that I don’t belong to a housing association. Honestly, I’m not very good at painting, so the idea that I am tackling this is actually pretty funny.
Being good enough is essential to being human. When we’re healthy, we have the capacity to know when to stop. And we know when to pick back up again. When we have agency, when we are running at full, human potential, we know when our painting is finished; we know when it is time to rest; we know when we’ve hit the right note. Robots can’t do that. Left to their own devices, they may destroy themselves and everything around them.
The idea of the “good enough” mother comes from Winnicott, a famous psychoanalyst who felt that the relationship between mother and infant was this constantly evolving, never perfect, but “good enough” relationship.
“if we have these personal problems, we must live with them and see how time brings some kind of personal evolution rather than a solution.” D. W. Winnicott, Home Is Where We Start From: Essays by a Psychoanalyst
“Somewhere in the scheme of things there can be room for everyone to live creatively. This involves retaining something personal, perhaps secret, that is unmistakably yourself. If nothing else, try breathing, something no one can do for you.” D. W. Winnicott
“Life is not what it's supposed to be. It's what it is. The way you cope with it is what makes the difference.” Virginia Satir
(Yes, apparently, it’s child development week.)
The first time I ever encountered the idea of “good enough” was in learning about the “good enough” mother — after I had been a mother for quite awhile. It was both a terrifying and welcome idea.
The concept of “good enough” is related to the idea that if you have never failed, you haven’t really tried hard enough. It’s that idea of a balancing act — giving yourself (or your baby) the space, and just enough space, to feel a little uncomfortable so you can grow.
Maybe try to make a list of things you would like to be “good enough” at. And a list of things you are “good enough at already. And things that you want to try but are afraid you will fail.
It’s not rocket surgery. Finding that equilibrium in “good enough” is a constant practice. What is that thing, this week, that you can either slow down a bit, speed up a bit, stop or start that will challenge you to reach “good enough” status?
Many of us did not have “good enough” mothers or fathers, so this balance can be, really, terrifying sometimes. We may need to gently and continuously reteach ourselves that concept of venturing just enough into uncomfortable and then back into quiet rest. Start where you are.
5. Level-UP / Go Deeper
The concept of “good enough” is the beginning of creativity. And, well, creativity is the beginning of being fully human.
Finding that balance between nurturing and comfort on the one hand and sitting in discomfort and uncertainty on the other is a lifelong challenge for most of us. I strongly believe that this is one great reason for always having a creative practice: painting, writing, music, dance, fabric art. We need this practice to experience that balance, to practice what good enough feels like.
What is your creative practice? Can you commit to weekly practice?
6. POD Poem of the day francine j. harris: enough food and a mom
7. Podcast (Bari Scott – Executive Director: The Really Big Questions)
8. Video (JK Rowling — The Fringe Benefits of Failure (yes, this is intentional. everyone needs to be allowed to fail a bit, to misstep, to be imperfect, to hurt feelings, to grow, etc.)
9. Hero: Karen Killgarith and Georgia Hardstark, Network Founder
Why? Hmm. Well, a few days ago, Cate Baio interviewed me for her radio show, Authenticity, Inc. She asked what I was listening to, and, having just admitted to reading a book about poison, I balked when I realized that what I was listening to was equally “muderey” I am fairly addicted to “My Favorite Murder” podcast, which Karen Killgarith and Georgia Hardstark began in 2016.
Why? Not so much the murder but the gorgeous, “good enough” push me pull you of striving and laughing mixed with life lessons about that exact balance.
10. Take Care of Yourself This Week and Share if you know someone who might like this.
Wild and Precious Podcast, the audio partner to 10 Things, is available everywhere you download podcasts. Good Enough episode Thursday. No guest this week; we’ll do “good enough” stories instead.