Personal Journeys with Gramma

Life adventures, inspiration and insight; shared in articles, advice, personal chats and pictures.

Better Than “Good Enough”

toe shoes-feet only

How do you feel about accepting “good enough” as a standard?  If you’ve raised children, taught school, or held high expectations for yourself or others, you’ve probably already wrestled with this question.  I remember watching our daughter stumble through a dance studio performance, looking to the girls beside her for clues as to what to do.  The childish performance wasn’t her fault.  The studio expected no more than to let a lot of little girls show off in sequins without anything resembling dance technique.  That was okay for the first couple years when she was little, but by the third year, I told her anyone who performs owes the audience the best she can do, or she doesn’t deserve the spotlight.  Our daughter switched to a class taught by a strict master ballerina, and she ended up as a feature solo en pointe.

We all know we can slide along, doing only what we absolutely must to “get by.”  We’ve all done it at one time or another.  But what happens to people, to a society that doesn’t bother to go further?

“Which is more powerful—words or pictures?” is the basis for an intellectual battle depicted in WORDS AND PICTURES, a movie my husband and I rented from Netflix recently.  The battleground is an ambitious, intellectual private high school where two exquisitely talented teachers discover they need each other.  They’re both facing daunting personal challenges that could destroy not only their considerable abilities but also their lives, and neither has the power to triumph alone.  They are both disgusted by “good enough.”

We’re left to ask ourselves what we become when we allow ourselves to wallow in mediocrity.  We lose respect for ourselves and hope for a better future.  Our abilities dull, because we aren’t using them well.  We may fall into depression.  We want desperately for someone we admire to say, “What you’ve done so far is fine, but you can do more, better.  I know you can do it.  Get busy!”  Now and then, we’re the ones someone is hoping will speak up with encouragement.

Pushing harder and further than we think we can go is scary.  But we want to arrive at the end of life knowing we ran full out, 100%.  We did — not “good enough” — but our best.  The truth of how far we can really go is a wonderful surprise.

(WORDS AND PICTURES stars Clive Owen and Juliette Binoche in sharp, credible performances.  I recommend it highly.)

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