“We teach best what we most need to learn.” —Richard Bach, Illusions
I suspect we may be in our “mow every week” season. It wouldn’t matter to the height of today’s grass; the last time I was able to fit mowing in was over three weeks ago, during Spring Break. One could argue that I could have fit mowing in last Saturday morning, but getting re-familiar with the leaf-blower/vacuum claimed higher priority in my mind. Besides, on Saturday I was time-constrained and that turned out to take less time…barely.
Today I set out well, since the day is cool and bright and the grass relatively dry. I have fine-tuned my optimal mower pattern, which pleases me. But somewhere along the line… was it during the hand-trimming? was it during the talking-to-B/weeding-the-patio break?… I felt myself slipping sideways. Not in the observable aspects of Mowing the Grass. But in the mental aspects of Getting the Work Done. Was today’s job simply traversing our turf with the mower? Was it mowing+trimming, my usual definition? What about the places where the grass had begun climbing across the concrete, or rock beds—I haven’t edged since last October? And then there are all the strands of live-oak pollen mixed with leaves… certainly those are a separate job—or jobs—for a separate day, but the porch! The front porch is covered with them, so much that I move on tippy-toe to try not to stir them up or track them in. (We’re very allergic to the pollen.) Plus there are all those unasked-for sprouts in the new front garden…
I realized I was thirsty around the edges. And getting a headache, so I was likely thirstier than I knew. And tireder. And the tireder I get, the less able I am to wrangle my innate defaults… I could feel myself tugging desperately toward Fixing the Whole Front Yard. And Back Yard! So that I’m not looking at all the unfinished aspects any more! And I can finally relax, because it will be finished. It will be DONE, properly.
I bet that would take around six hours. Or six hours more than the two I’d put in. Without moving the laundry along, or practicing for the poetry readings I’m doing Thursday and Friday. Today was a day for Good Enough in the yard department, if ever there was one.
I gave in to sweeping the front porch. But not the walk. I let myself trim a few turk’s cap bushes, though not even half of them. (I’m not sure how I was able to pull that off.) Yes, turf-mowing; yes to some trimming, but not on the far side of the house. I used the hand-held electric trimmer to finesse a little edging, but reminded myself I was tired and so stopped after two strategic areas. I had trouble keeping from weeding the beds as I put equipment away, but I didn’t get too sidetracked. I made it safely inside, to drink copious amounts of iced tea and to write.
When B lived with me, I spent a lot of energy nagging her in favor of Good Enough. Particularly once she hit the gifted magnet schools, I started looming over her, saying, “GO TO BED.” “But Mom, I’m almost finished! I just want to read it through one more time…” “GO TO BED. You need sleep more than you need to revise. A ‘B’ grade is a good grade in gifted school. GO. TO. BED.”
For some of us, it is incredibly difficult to let go of What I Can See Could Be and leave things at Good Enough. I’m not sure why we’re so terrible at measuring the (human, opportunity, sometimes financial) cost of reaching What Could Be over Good Enough. It’s only been in my fifth decade that I’ve come to fully understand how delivering What Could Be is like reaching five 9s of uptime*… and given one of my favorite “five 9s” stories, maybe we’re all terrible at understanding the cost until we stop to measure it.
It would be nice if I could successfully share my painfully accumulated What Could Be cost-projections with my B, so that she might run her numbers sooner. But emotional-savvy-transfer is more challenging than technology transfer, even if one knows to give it a lonnnng lead time.
*Two nines of uptime, or 99% availability, gives 3 days, 15 hours and 40 minutes for repairs and maintenance per year. Five nines, or 99.999% availability, gives 5 minutes, 15 seconds or less. Per year. How much would you be willing to pay in order to make that happen?