?

Log in

No account? Create an account
A short meditation on excellence and limits - Light One Candle

> Recent Entries
> Archive
> Friends
> Profile

Other Places My Fics Are Archived
FanFiction.Net
The CalSci Library (A Numb3rs Gen Archive)
The Invisible Man Virtual Seasons
The Sugar Quill

March 30th, 2008


Previous Entry Share Next Entry
11:21 pm - A short meditation on excellence and limits
Often, very often, I find myself failing to reach goals. Failing to meet a self-imposed writing deadline; to get chores done around the house; to accomplish daily tasks; to provide enough support to friends who are in crisis.

There you find the keyword, the cornerstone of my offense: that I do not do "enough." By whose standards? Sometimes others', people I respect or care about and do not want to disappoint; more often, my own, since I alone know most intimately all the moments when I could have done more, should have done more.

But it has occurred to me recently that "enough" is no valid measurement of my accomplishments or failures. There are limits to my physical strength, my mental focus, my emotional wellspring. And although I have in the past disdained such ideas as "just doing one's best," thinking that such a mindset only leads to doing less than one's best, to willful mediocrity, I'm beginning to think that phrase may be a more valid measurement than some nebulous "enough."

I cannot save the entire world, nor even all of those around me. I am a finite human being.

I accept that.

This question still remains, then: how may I find the line to walk between "doing what I can" and "doing less than I can"? Between my best (which is never "enough") and the cynical slacking off that I sometimes drop into (because I know that even my best is never "enough")?

"You cannot outguess the gods. Hold to virtue--if you can identify it--and trust that the duty set before you is the duty desired of you. And that the talents given to you are the talents you should place in the gods' service. Believe that the gods ask for nothing back that they have not first lent to you. Not even your life."
--Lois McMaster Bujold, The Curse of Chalion
Current Mood: contemplativecontemplative

(7 lit candles | Light a candle)

Comments:


[User Picture]
From:kerravonsen
Date:March 31st, 2008 07:26 am (UTC)
(Link)
Amen.

I've been reflecting a bit on something I read somewhere or someone told me: that bright people tend to measure their efforts against an internal standard, because when we were in school, things tended to be so easy that the only times we failed were when we were being lazy. And therefore we learn to equate all failures with laziness, even though the things we're doing are much harder than those things were back then.

But it makes it really hard to judge how much is "enough".

(Is that meant to be "mediation" or "meditation"?)
[User Picture]
From:izhilzha
Date:March 31st, 2008 08:31 pm (UTC)
(Link)
I've been reflecting a bit on something I read somewhere or someone told me: that bright people tend to measure their efforts against an internal standard, because when we were in school, things tended to be so easy that the only times we failed were when we were being lazy.

Wow, that makes all kinds of sense! I have a hard time labeling myself as "bright," because I know some *really* bright people, but that sounds exactly like my school (and university) experience. Plus, being homeschooled, I always had a lot of free time, and we had to learn to be self-disciplined quite early. That also adds to the idea that if we fail to do things, it's just because we're being lazy.

Thank you so much for sharing that insight.

And heh, it *was* meant to be "meditation." Fixed now. *g*
[User Picture]
From:kalquessa
Date:March 31st, 2008 04:20 pm (UTC)
(Link)
Couldn't have said it better, myself. Esp. this:

And although I have in the past disdained such ideas as "just doing one's best," thinking that such a mindset only leads to doing less than one's best, to willful mediocrity, I'm beginning to think that phrase may be a more valid measurement than some nebulous "enough."

That's a pretty kick-ass quote from Bujold. (I just started reading the first Miles book this morning!)

And speaking of the limits of your mental focus: please do not let me strain it with my constant obsessing over the story. It just happens to be occupying my frontal lobes at the moment, and I have the curse of the extrovert: I have to SHARE. And you're the only person to whom any of it will make sense. But just ignore me if you need to. As my husband would tell you, I don't need an interactive audience, just an audience. *grin*
[User Picture]
From:izhilzha
Date:March 31st, 2008 08:37 pm (UTC)
(Link)
That's a pretty kick-ass quote from Bujold. (I just started reading the first Miles book this morning!)

Whoo-hoo Miles!

Mind you, as much as I love Miles and his adventures, her Chalion books are even better. Vastly quotable, and deeply moving, especially to people of faith (imho).

And speaking of the limits of your mental focus: please do not let me strain it with my constant obsessing over the story. It just happens to be occupying my frontal lobes at the moment, and I have the curse of the extrovert: I have to SHARE.

Heh. No worries; I wouldn't be going back and forth with you if it wasn't also occupying MY frontal lobes. *g* Expect some brainstorming right back atcha later today. (You asked a couple of questions I was already pondering, so yay!)

Edited to rid comment of excess quotage.

Edited at 2008-03-31 08:38 pm (UTC)
[User Picture]
From:aitchmark
Date:March 31st, 2008 05:45 pm (UTC)
(Link)
I sit here in middle age and tell you this is not an easy area to parse. But I think you started far earlier than I did, and on that I congratulate you. Good thinking.

I am facing that my "best" can in fact break my health and carry me past my last reserves of strength; it is indeed possible to spend yourself to a point where you have very little left. It is not a good place to reach.

But I still resist accepting what might be "good enough".

Learn better. Think of my bad example as a kid lying on the ground with a broken leg, calling up to the second kid on the roof of the garage: "I don't think flapping harder will help. Use the ladder, and throw those stupid wings in the trash."

Blessings.....
[User Picture]
From:izhilzha
Date:March 31st, 2008 08:41 pm (UTC)
(Link)
But I think you started far earlier than I did, and on that I congratulate you.

Well, thank you. That's encouraging. :-)

I am facing that my "best" can in fact break my health and carry me past my last reserves of strength; it is indeed possible to spend yourself to a point where you have very little left. It is not a good place to reach.

I discovered that in university. I'm quite capable of functioning (and even excelling) on 6 hours of sleep a night, coffee, and motivation. However, I found that after doing that all semester, I would crash and get sick during the break--which told me I was using up my body's resources in a terrifically unwise manner. I haven't quite found the balance of doing my best and keeping some margin, yet, but I know what you mean, I think.

Thank you for sharing!
[User Picture]
From:kerravonsen
Date:March 31st, 2008 09:11 pm (UTC)
(Link)
I am facing that my "best" can in fact break my health and carry me past my last reserves of strength; it is indeed possible to spend yourself to a point where you have very little left.

That's something I have to beat into my head more; when I was younger, I could push myself to complete things late into the night and it didn't matter; but now with my health situation, if I push myself, the consequences are very noticable, because it is very hard for me to bounce back from not getting enough sleep. But yet, I still have my J-type impatience and desire to finish things, so it's hard.

> Go to Top
LiveJournal.com