“And now that you don’t have to be perfect, you can be good.” John Steinbeck
You would think that “self-discovery” is the domain of the young and curious, but for some of us it seems to be a life-long adventure. In the 60’s we were fond of framing the matter as an effort intended to “find one’s self.” Little did I know then that finding myself would require living in a seemingly never-ending state of exploration and reflective contemplation.
Well here I am several decades later feeling as if I am finally coming to some kind of resolution about this notion of finding myself. It all comes down to this: just live a good life, one without superlatives. There really are no such things as the best or the greatest or even “my favorite.” There is only “what is, now.”
Once again Steinbeck sets my mind toward a more modest approach when he writes in The Grapes of Wrath, “There ain’t no sin and there ain’t no virtue. There’s just stuff people do.” Yes, there simply is “just stuff people do.”
The Bane of Addition
Perhaps the bane of having what you need leaves one with a mild (or even profound) sense of feeling a need for something more, as if having enough is just not enough. Commercials on TV send haunting messages intended to convince the viewer that their life isn’t quite right without whatever product is being pitched.
And so we add more stuff or even a clearer purpose for our dreams until we find ourselves shuddering on the edge of attempts at a more perfect life.
Imperfection is the Norm
God help us. Literally! The good news is that imperfection reflects normalcy. The human condition is one fraught with errant and misguided ways. And yet, even in this conglomerate of imperfections, with just a simple twist of mind, we can absorb and produce more good.
Perhaps there is a reason the John the Baptist pleaded for people to repent which means, “to change one’s mind and heart.” Confess you have faulty reasoning in search of a more perfect life, when all that life demands is to “be good,” like it was intended from the very beginning of human life.
I guess it always comes down to one thing: Grace, where perfection is unnecessary and attitudes of appreciation and acceptance lead to “just doing the good that people do.”
“Don’t Try to Be the Best One;
Just Be a Good One.”
Photo courtesy of Wiphop Sathawirawong at istockphoto