Friday, May 29, 2015

Good Enough

Just a few days ago, I read a quote that said, "Perfection is the enemy of good enough." Wish I could remember where I read it to give credit to a wise person. I am not a perfectionist by any means. But I can have my moments.

I have worked on this colorful shawl, made from my leftover yarn scraps, for quite a while now. I took it to the midwest, mostly for airport knitting. I knitted some on my return trip and then put in a few more rows the next day. Those were the days, after intense babysitting, when both my brain and my body were beyond tired. Total fatigue. Knitting is restful and restorative for me, so it made sense to knit a little.

But as I worked on it at home, sitting on my porch where the only noise was the hummingbird wars going on beside me, my brain began to come back to full function. And then it hit me. Inches back, I had made a series of mistakes.

I had a few choices. I could take out a couple of inches and correct it. I could forge ahead and hope. Or, I could carefully take the shawl off the needles and see what was happening. That's what I decided to do. That process took less than 30 minutes.

So, what did I decide after I spread it out to see what it looked like? It's not perfect. But it is good enough. I am knitting this shawl from scraps. I am making it to wear with my jeans. I can only devote so many hours to knitting. It is good enough.

I remembered that quote about perfection and I started thinking about times when we should appreciate "good enough."

Years ago, there were home economics teachers who, instead of teaching kids to sew, taught them to hate sewing because the final product had to be "perfect." Perfection shouldn't be the goal for a beginner. When I taught home ec, the first sewing project was a simple skirt and the goal was different. If it didn't fall apart or fall off the one wearing it, it was good enough. There was time to build skills as we went on.

Some piano teachers have been known to focus so much on hitting all the right notes, that the music is lost. I learned later in life that sometimes it's better to keep the rhythm going (okay--maybe this doesn't apply to classical piano) than it is to stop and hunt the right note. Sometimes a joyful noise can be good enough. Encourage the love of music and let the accuracy come along in it's own time.

Have you ever thought about inviting friends for lunch—when the house is perfectly clean? How about accepting that it is good enough and have them over now? Why put off having fun? One of the best times I've had recently was when a friend invited me over to share leftovers. Her leftovers were better than good enough. I'd go to her house anytime for leftovers.

One of my favorite memories of my daddy is hearing him scrape off the dark brown parts of almost-burnt toast on the mornings he cooked breakfast for us. (There weren't many of those. Something desperate must have happened to my mother.) He knew about good enough. In fact, I kind of like well done toast now.

It is so easy to get caught up in working toward having everything exactly right. Maybe it's time to appreciate that sometimes "good enough" can be just about perfect.


  1. Oh boy! I love the burnt toast scraping part. I always teased my mother and told herthat I was gonna miss that sound when I moved away from home. She acraped often . . . but what was underneath always tasted just fine. I LOVE the colors you're using in your shawl!

    1. Scraping burnt toast doesn't sound like any other thing I can think of. Makes me smile just to think about it. Can't wait to finish the shawl. I'm on the ruffle now.

  2. So extremely wise, my friend! As always, I am still constantly learning and reviewing, thanks to your words! God bless you bunches!

  3. Love this so much! I need this reminder often since I am a recovering perfectionist. The times when I have let good enough be good enough have always felt so freeing.

    1. It's hard for me to remember, too. That blue dishcloth in the "moving" post? There is one missed YO. I actually thought about backing up a few rows to fix it. A dishcloth!!! Just made myself keep going. There is a time for perfection. That was not it!


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