Perfection Meh. Good Enough is Now Our Goal

We’re no longer in search of perfection whether the perfect test score, the ideal weight or the best cake ever baked. Cakes look nice if the layers are even and the frosting is smooth, but who cares if they are the best you’ve ever tasted. Light and fluffy for the cake part and rich for the frosting are good enough and delicious to us.

Even well-known writers like Thomas Friedman and Maureen Dowd of The New York Times Opinion pages or author Malcolm Gladwell don’t hit it out of the ballpark with every column and book. Do they fret that everyone didn’t love what they wrote? We have no idea. They’re onto the next piece we think.

Along the same lines, nice friends rather than ones without serious personality flaws or who compete with you on many levels are easy and enjoyable to be with and enrich our lives in positive ways. Better than good enough.

And even the number of steps we take and count on our watches or other devices when we’re out walking now take a back seat to a delightful stroll in an interesting setting where we can focus instead on the architecture, people, new sounds and sights.

Aging has taught us the value of imperfection. If those cookies were a little under- or overdone that probably didn’t stop us from gobbling them down; we won’t tell you how many we consumed. Same goes for an affordable and palatable red wine with enough oomph yet smoothness to stand up to a roast chicken with Mediterranean-style prepared vegetables. It doesn’t have to be the expensive “perfect” red that the fancy experts recommend.

Have we lowered our standards? We chose not to look at it this way. What we’ve discovered is that the difference in quality, looks, size or however we measure anything, doesn’t really matter in the scheme of things when everything else seems so out of whack in the political arena, climate reports, royal lives.

Life has so many trials and tribulations that we’re just content to have a pleasant day rather than stress ourselves out and engage in some stimulating conversation and smile a few times rather than go for the gold in every circumstance.

That doesn’t preclude feeling pressure which we’re experiencing as we both look for new places to live. We’ve lived in lovely homes and apartments through the decades. But our needs and wants have shifted. What we care about most at this later stage in life is being near family and close friends, our favorite destinations and affording our places with some financial wiggle room so we sleep well at night.  A home that’s a little small, one that involves a little more work to maintain or fix it up than we hoped for, on a floor a bit too high or low or with more steps within than we wanted won’t make a huge difference in our overall lives.

The same goes for friendships we make at this later life stage. Many say it’s impossible to forge the same kind of deep friendships we’ve had for years, if not decades. That’s probably true. People have their set relationships and may have no room to let new people into their lives. Maybe the new ones we meet may not be in our age group, which actually can be good, may be more opinionated, busier with families to raise and not always available as old friends can be or talk too much about themselves. Oh, well.

Maybe the new people we meet won’t be the perfect friends who pick up on our moods, celebrate our achievements and commiserate with us when things go South, but they can be nice and pleasant to be around and to share some good conversation. Maybe, they will make us laugh. Sounds pretty good enough to us.

What it all boils down to is balance. Some things may still knock our socks off, but we’re at a point in our lives where good is good enough. (Perhaps too much excitement might be a challenge to our health at our ages. Ha!) Anyway, we’d rather worry, if we have to worry, which our therapists consider a wasted emotion, about something far more important than the perfect friend, partner, weight, recipe, restaurant, hairdo or outfit. Wouldn’t you?


  • Audrey Steuer

    What a perfect message – even if “perfect” is no longer required! Balance in life is probably the most difficult norm to achieve, but probably also the most important. Thank you for making us stop to think about what is most important!

  • Gilda Brancato

    Barbara and Margaret, this is a terrific column, and puts so much in perspective. It is sage guidance to keep in mind when we begin to fret about unimportant things. Thank you so much for sharing.

Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published