How Good is Good Enough? / by Simeon Smith

I was brought up on very conservative Christian ideals. A verse that was often used in my house was Matthew, chapter 5, verse 48. "Be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect." Yeah, my parents really knew how to take the fun out of fundamentalism. 

Now-a-days, when I remember that verse, I'm more likely to question how perfect a deity that created this mess can be, than focus on the first part of the verse, but there's still something ingrained in me that searches for perfection in just about everything. The perfect espresso. The perfect bass tone. The perfect street photo.

I've written before about how I'm trying to "Get Good at Life", a phrase I stole from Brian Crabtree (https://vimeo.com/62272562), but should perfection be our goal? How good is good enough?

Eric Kim tells us that he gets blog posts 80% ready before hitting send, but really?! 80% that's a whole fifth away from perfect. 

I've also been listening to a lot of Nils Frahm recently, a pianist who's work emphasises the imperfections of his instrument.

Capitalism, the all-knowing, market-driven god of the modern age, obviously has an answer. It calls for a "Cost / Benefit analysis". For every action taken to improve something, there is prescribed a cost, in time, money, effort, and a benefit. 

When we apply this to creativity, this skewed view can be helpful. Whenever I start a project for someone else that I'm being paid for we discuss what their budget is, how much I charge for certain work, and what priorities they can afford. 

But when it comes to our own personal art, where we invest as much time and money as we want to or can, when do we call time on a project? Where do we set out the limitations? When is a work finished? 

All photos in this article taken on a perfectly imperfect Holga 120N plastic camera. 

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