Good Can Be Great

They just don’t make mountains like they used to. Love the Pacific Northwest.

One of the many mountains near Seattle. I took the picture from the window seat of a plane, so the quality isn’t the best, but I still love it just the same. See? Good can be great.


When I make a claim like good can be great, I’m not talking about suppressing your drive for more in life. Or settling. God, no, not settling. The unrepentant overachiever in me would never stand behind that.

I’m talking about recognizing that while you strive for more, better, the best, you can be happy—pleased, content—with the good as it is.

It’s weird for me to say this, to suddenly be a champion for less than great. I can barely absorb it past a superficial level.

Sure, yeah, good is fine, but when compared to great, isn’t good just another word for mediocre?

(I’m laughing to myself at my own expense right now because one of my standard editing queries when I come across good involves a spiel about how the word is weak because it has a range of meanings, anything from fair to ideal, depending on intent, and I like to have the author get more specific. As in editing and writing and life, we become what we hate. You’ll just have to indulge my vague word choice for the time being.)

“It is almost good.”

I had an instructor in culinary school who was a tough customer. One day when the students had free license to cook whatever we wanted, I presented this chef with a taste of what I made. He chewed for a bit and looked me right in the eye and said, “It is almost good.”

As an editor and wordsmith, as it were, I’m in the business of, basically, telling people their words, ideas, etc., though good, can be more—and massaging, twisting, rearranging, and questioning those words until they are better. As close to perfect as I can get them. Great.

But as a writer and self-editor, I need to change my perspective. Bad is unwritten—and blocked, even, which is right up there (down there?) with wandering around a circle of hell.

What stops me often is a different idea of good. Not the good that’s somewhere on the spectrum to great. Good, as in, not good enough.

I always feel better when I’m writing.

Done is better than perfect but incomplete.

My acupuncturist—who is great, by the way—first introduced me to this idea of good that can also be great.

It’s taken a few months for the perfectionist with a megaphone who resides in my head to stop and consider the notion for more than three seconds.

Some days it feels like she’ll never shut up. But never say never, you know?

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