The "Good Enough" Conversation Never Ends

To revisit a bit of what I touched on in the previous post, I think that anyone in a creative pursuit (or most pursuits, it seems to me) is faced with the question of "what is good enough?"

I know there are other questions, e.g., "How do you work this thing? How do I get from A to B?" and so forth. However, many of the questions that people face centered around "What am I doing? Is this worth my time? Do I have value? Does what I created have value? Should I just quit?" are really just different ways of asking "Is this good enough?"

I understand that we live in a world that is likely in need of some editing. The post-YouTube universe is awash with content. Is all of it great? Hardly. However, it is representative of a cross-section of people's interests, thoughts, and activities. As such, it is just a big mirror for all of us.

Once upon a time, artists and non-artists alike didn't have the ability to instantly create and share. Film took time to develop. Everyone didn't have a recording studio on their laptop. People couldn't shoot a movie on a rotary phone. 

Now that the gatekeepers are gone, the fundamental question of "Is it good enough?" falls to the individual with control of their own destiny. The universe (and self-promotion) will decide the rest.

I'm a firm believer in things being good. I believe in doing your best, given the parameters you have. I am also a believer in doing things, instead of thinking about them. That is the balance. That is why I love playing live. I don't have time to agonize over the mistake I just made, I have to keep playing and move on. It is a state of "infinite now." Additionally, the only way to do it is to do it. I can't intellectualize about a show. I just have to go play it, then the next, then the next.

With recorded music, good enough is a tougher decision. However, at some point, it becomes counterproductive to agonize over it. An imperfect line of vocal phrasing that drives me up the wall for years will suddenly be what gives a song character when I revisit it. A note bent flat or sharp on a guitar solo suddenly has charm when I hear it years later. A song that I thought was not good enough suddenly sounds like a little piece of magic when enough time has passed for me to be somewhat objective.

Someone once said that comparing yourself to others or an ideal in your head is a ticket to unhappiness. Comparing yourself to an earlier version of yourself is more useful. Maybe they are on to something. Aiming to do your best may not mean never being satisfied. I wish I had thought of it that way years ago.

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