I could hardly believe my eyes this morning when, sitting on the porch, I noticed a mail truck down at the end of the block. It was about 7 a.m. and our neighborhood seldom sees mail before 4:30 or 5:00 in the afternoon. We are the last on the list of social services like snow-plowing a mail delivery. But there the truck was -- no doubt about it.
I waited for the mailman to arrive and expressed my surprise. What in the wide, wide world of sports was going on ... we never got mail this early.
His explanation was simple: "I'm delivering yesterday's mail."
The postal service is suffering the same cut-backs as other businesses ... cut the staff while pretending to deliver the same service as always. Only, of course, it's not true. Hospitals that trim nurses do not provide the same level of service. Newspapers that cut editorial staff do not provide the same level or depth of coverage. Everywhere, quality or excellence is reduced but the desire to be well-regarded promotes liars and spin doctors.
Quality is reduced, but ... well, it's "good enough."
As a social matter, I can piss and moan with the best of them when it comes to this sort of devolution. It's as tasty as potato chips and beer ... "I remember when..." or "Ain't it awful?" ... or "No wonder America is becoming a third-world country...." Tasty, tasty, tasty.
But more interesting, I think, are the compromises people make with themselves -- the "good enough's" that ooze into a life like some oil spill ... killing the darting, silvery excellence of fish or the ability of soaring shore birds to fly. Globs of "good enough" easing in on the tide until somehow the pristine beaches of the mind -- the excellence imagined or longed for -- is hobbled with goo.
Is "good enough" good enough? I don't think so, but it is an individual matter to sort out what is "good enough" and what is "not good enough." Everyone, young and old, makes compromises -- cuts their losses, sacrifices one thing for another, trims back their expectations, revises their dream. The alternative to doing this is probably suicide.
But in the midst of all this reality-check behavior, this 'adult' activity ... still there is the need or longing or perhaps even requirement for some no-holds-barred excellence ... something that is not just good enough, but rather -- dare I say it? -- perfect.
Eyewash specialists chalk such a yearning up to "hope" and then extol the hell out of "hope." But I think there really is a need to actualize something that is less "good enough" than hope or belief.
And what excellence, what perfection, constitutes such an actualization? What time or place or event or person dares to experience the pure easiness of un-gooed waters lapping on the bright sand? Who has the power to relinquish hope and experience perfection?
I haven't got a clue.
But given the freight and weight and blinding capacities of what is "good enough," I imagine the longing for a nanosecond's worth of excellence is worth heeding and pursuing.