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Being Good Enough

Roy Hobbs, the Natural

I occasionally remember, and think about, a scene from the movie “The Natural” starring Robert Redford and Glenn Close. It goes something like this:

Roy Hobbs: I coulda been better. I coulda broke every record in the book.

Iris Gaines: And then?

Roy Hobbs: And then? And then when I walked down the street people would've looked and they would've said there goes Roy Hobbs, the best there ever was in this game.

It’s a great scene, a memorable scene, a scene this writer cannot ignore on this Saturday morning. Where I grew up, in our neighborhood, at that time, Roy’s dream was the dream of most of us kids. I dreamed of being a fire-balling pitcher in the Bigs, blowing fastballs past Willie Mays and Hank Aaron, bowing towards the stands as the thousands of fans stood as one, declaring me to be the best of the best. It would surely happen if I just worked hard enough.

Dreaming of the Major Leagues

Dreaming of the Major Leagues

The Best There Ever Was . . . Contrasting Thoughts

I was listening to an interview the other day, an interview with a 30+ pitcher for the Seattle Mariners. Wade LeBlanc is his name, and after countless years, bouncing around the League, including a stop in Japan (the graveyard of ex-Major League players), he has finally found a home in Seattle . . . and he’s found success as well.

It seems odd for a thirty-plus journeyman pitcher to speak about just starting to understand himself as a pitcher, but that’s how LeBlanc describes his current position. Listening to a recent interview with him, I’m drawn to the way Wade emphasizes the words “good enough.”

Wanting to be good enough is one of the deepest human longings—good enough to be respected, good enough to be loved, good enough to be considered deserving of good things in life. It’s also a fear: you need to be good enough at your job in order to keep it, a margin that’s razor-thin for people who throw baseballs for a living. For years, Wade has heard about how his stuff isn’t good enough to get out major league hitters. Every article where Wade LeBlanc shuts down the opposition is written with a touch of incredulity. This guy is shutting us down?

The 30’s are a time of making peace with your life and your body. You learn about what good enough actually is, as you collect and lose love, get hired and fired and hired again, suffer through losses and re-accumulate, and realize there is more to fashion than jeans and a t-shirt. You learn that limits can be useful things, because they give you a defined space in which to see how far you can stretch, and force you to be creative and thoughtful in how you approach these limits. The wild experimentation and wandering in the wilderness of the 20’s is over, and you can focus on winnowing your knowledge down to the truest and most necessary things. Like sharpening your cutter into a weapon that carves up batters, or adding some extra nasty sink to your changeup. Like learning about angles, fooling the batter’s eye by pitching up, pitching down, inside and outside, variations of a mind-game as old as man himself. Instead of trying to fit in with what other pitchers are doing, Wade is working on being his best Wade, and the Mariners rewarded him for it. Wade doesn’t have to worry about being good enough. He can simply know he is . . . he is Wade . . . he is doing what he loves doing . . .

And in that knowledge he has found peace.

it can be exhausting, sometimes, being good enough

it can be exhausting, sometimes, being good enough

And by Extension . . .

I think we can all relate to both philosophies of life, the Roy Hobbs “be the best” and the Wade LeBlanc “be good enough.” I know I certainly can.

As a youngster I was going to be a great baseball player, the best pitcher this world has ever seen. And then later in life the best teacher, the best businessman, the best, the best, and the best; but time tends to smooth the edges into curves, like a river flowing over jagged rock, and the sharpness of our goals becomes smooth beauty of its own kind as clarity and yes, reality, come into play.

It is only natural to want to “be the best.” We humans seem to be born with a wide-eyed belief that we can do anything. Loving parents tell us the same. The sky is the limit, to infinity and beyond, clichés rain down upon us, feeding our delusions, while at the same time realities are highlighting limitations . . . we cannot all be the best, it is impossible to be so, pure folly, the stuff of childhood dreams and nothing more.

But in failing to reach those lofty goals do we actually fail, or is there a pot of gold at the end of a long trail traversed honorably and admirably? Do we . . . should we . . . receive some sort of reward for simply learning who we are, learning what we are capable of being, and excelling in that confined space?

I was a "good enough" teacher.

I was a "good enough" teacher.

I Will Never Be . . .

Honestly, and I say this without any trace of self-flagellation, I will never be the greatest writer of all time. I will never be the greatest husband, the greatest father, the greatest urban farmer, or the greatest friend who ever lived. When I walk down the street of life, people will never point at me and say “there goes Bill Holland, the best there ever was in this game of life.”

And I’m fine with that!

I’m pretty damned good at some things.

I suck at others.

I am human!

And I find great comfort in that knowledge.

The Mariners Took a Chance on Wade Leblanc

To the tune of $650,000, a chance on a journeyman pitcher no one else wanted, a pitcher with a reputation of falling just short of greatness, a journeyman facing twilight without any prospects for the limelight . . .

And that chance paid off, success all around, raise your glasses in a toast, a toast to resilience, a toast to determination, and a toast to the peace of mind which comes from being good enough.

And what’s good enough for Wade LeBlanc is surely good enough for . . . us all!

In a world where glamour still sells, where the poor idolize the rich, and little girls starve themselves to look like their favorite starlet; in a world where the American Dream is dangled in front of our noses, urging us to surge forward and achieve success; in a world where the Bachelor, and the Bachlelorette, are watched by millions of adoring wannabees; in that world, at this time, the truth that we are all good enough is desperately needed.

From the womb to the turbulent teens to the struggles of adulthood, we are good enough.

Through the failures and the divorces and the pipe-dreams turned pipe-bombs, we are good enough.

Through the shattered hopes and the lost loves, we are good enough.

One of a kind! Unique among seven billion! The rarest of the rare!

We are good enough, you and I . . . and there is peacefulness in that realization.

Let’s celebrate!

2018 William D. Holland (aka billybuc)

Comments

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on January 12, 2019:

Just like a fine wine, my friend, we improve with age. :) Have a wonderful weekend!

Marlene Bertrand from USA on January 11, 2019:

I turned 64 years old last year and it hit me that I am probably now at the best I am ever going to get - nothing to get excited about. At the same time, I realized that at the end of the day I am "good enough." Your words have a lot of value in teaching us to be OK with that.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on August 27, 2018:

I love that, Lawrence. Thank you for sharing that.

Lawrence Hebb from Hamilton, New Zealand on August 26, 2018:

Bill

'Painters work to shades' was a saying I'd often hear my Dad say. The meaning was something might not be perfect, but if you've done it right, then its 'Good enough'

Thank you for the reminder.

Lawrence

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on August 11, 2018:

Thank you Heidi! It's always nice having you stop by and visit. I happen to think you're pretty special as well.

Heidi Thorne from Chicago Area on August 10, 2018:

Acceptance of ourselves and others, just as we are, is so important. That you for sharing your "good enough" with us (which we think is pretty great)!

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on August 10, 2018:

That is lovely of you to say, Sparrow...thank you so very much.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on August 10, 2018:

No, Nithya, it is not an easy journey, and we should be proud. I love your attitude!

Rochelle Ann De Zoysa from Moratuwa, Sri Lanka on August 10, 2018:

In my opinion, No expectations means no disappointments :) Being good enough matters as to how you see yourself :) I like the saying which says, that no one can make you inferior without your consent :) I believe that you are more than good enough :) Infact you are an inspiration :) Keep being a blessing :) Take care :)

Nithya Venkat from Dubai on August 10, 2018:

We should be proud of what we have achieved and celebrate what we have become. The journey is not easy and the difficulties that we encounter on our way are humongous. Great article, positive and thought provoking.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on August 09, 2018:

I love that, Jo! Thank you for the positive vibes.

Jo Miller from Tennessee on August 09, 2018:

Great article, Bill. I'm a big believer in celebrating the small successes along the way. Trying to be the best often means we are living in the future.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on August 06, 2018:

MizB, yes...we crammed all of our food into two ice chests once...it did not work out well at all.

The heat is back here after a four day break. Sigh! I'm wilting!!!

Thank you for your kind words. That's okay, I never liked Dos Equis! lol

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on August 06, 2018:

Wise words, Manatita. I will keep them close to my heart.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on August 06, 2018:

Thank you Manatita, as do you!

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on August 06, 2018:

Oh, those pesky bosses, Randi! lol

manatita44 from london on August 05, 2018:

You are more than good enough. You do a great job here. Since your life is teaching what you know, then why do you need to worry about any thing else?

Do not expect anything from man. Shalom!

Doris James MizBejabbers from Beautiful South on August 05, 2018:

And that means that you will never be featured in a Dos Equis commercial. (Just couldn't help that one, my friend.) But you are one of the best, I must say. Whomever is the best is just really a matter of opinion. I liked your baseball examples and your encouragement.

BY the way, I've been to only one major league baseball game in my life, the Seattle Seahawks in 2005 in Seattle. I can't remember the opposing team because it's been so long. Still too hot here to even carry out the trash. Our substitute ACs are functioning properly in lieu of the central unit that went kaput, but now the refrigerator is out. Ever try to cram as much food as possible in a dorm-sized fridge for a few days?

manatita44 from london on August 05, 2018:

More than good enough.yes,..,

You fo a great job here Bro.

Randi Benlulu from Mesa, AZ on August 05, 2018:

Thank you, Bill! That's probably the area I've hsd my most confidence! Now, about my boss....

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on August 05, 2018:

Thank you, Randi! I have no doubt your children would say you are good enough as a loving mother.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on August 05, 2018:

The best laid plans of mice and men, William....tell God your plans and listen to him laugh. :)

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on August 05, 2018:

Celebrate we shall, Pamela! Thanks for your views...loved them...and yes, we do learn from maturity.

Randi Benlulu from Mesa, AZ on August 05, 2018:

What a perfect sentiment! I have bern loving all the media around "I am enough" You drove that point home with this. What an empowering feeling to be able to let go of being the best and accept being enough!

Thank you!

William Kovacic from Pleasant Gap, PA on August 05, 2018:

Enjoyed the story, Bill, and the pics, too. When I was a kid I dreamed of being a big league ballplayer. I never once dreamed of being a preacher. Go figure - but here I am, and I'm loving it!. Thanks, Bill.

Pamela Oglesby from Sunny Florida on August 04, 2018:

I loved "The Natural" also. I am human, and that is just fine with me. I tried to be the best nurse I knew how to be, but was I the best nurse of all? No, and I wasn't the best mother in the world. I tried, and those 3 boys turned out just fine, so my mistakes were just that - mistakes.We certainly learn to take a different few as we mature. I enjoyed this article, so let's celebrate.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on August 04, 2018:

Another great line from that movie, Genna! Exactly....thank you....and blessings to you always.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on August 04, 2018:

I love that, Dora...we are deserving! Thank you for that pearl of wisdom.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on August 04, 2018:

I suspect that's exactly what he means, Liz. Thank you for sharing that.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on August 04, 2018:

Thanks so much, Ann! It's a full-time job for me to be me, and I need to appreciate the work-in-progress and not a fictional final product.

Have a peaceful, easy feeling weekend, my friend

bill

Genna East from Massachusetts, USA on August 03, 2018:

Loved 'The Natural.' I've never wanted to be the best...or even begin to grapple with what it would cost. My favorite line is what Iris said about our two lives: "The life we learn with and the life we live with after that." Your beautiful article of wisdom and grace reminds me of those words, Bill.

Dora Weithers from The Caribbean on August 03, 2018:

They say that the journey is the reward; so whether we're the best or just good enough, we can just bow and accept that we're deserving. Beautiful read!

Liz Westwood from UK on August 03, 2018:

This is a philosophical article that resonates with everyone. My neighbour is a great one for pilosophising over the garden fence. He reckons that you need to be happy with your lot in life. I guess that translates as feeling that you are good enough.

Ann Carr from SW England on August 03, 2018:

Let's celebrate indeed! We all do our best and we are good enough and that's great. That takes away the angst and the worry. Peace of mind results.

Great philosophy, bill, and a thoughtful hub.

Ann

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on August 03, 2018:

In an odd way, Mike, that makes me feel good. lol Thanks buddy!

mckbirdbks from Emerald Wells, Just off the crossroads,Texas on August 03, 2018:

Hi Bill - I never heard of Wade LeBlanc, but I have heard of Bill Holland.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on August 03, 2018:

That has been my experience, Rajan! There is always someone better...but maybe not someone who works as hard, or cares as much, or....well, you get the point.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on August 03, 2018:

I appreciate that, Pop! Let's spread the love across th political spectrum.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on August 03, 2018:

Thanks John! There is something about that movie that always speaks to me. I'm in good company if you love it too.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on August 03, 2018:

Beautifully stated, Peggy...thank you for saying it better than I did.

breakfastpop on August 03, 2018:

Thanks, billy and I love you just the way you are!

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on August 03, 2018:

Coulda, shoulda, woulda, Pop...you are fine just the way you are, my friend.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on August 03, 2018:

I hope so, Threekeys...thank you for reading and commenting.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on August 03, 2018:

My pleasure,Linda! Thank you!

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on August 03, 2018:

Natalie, this is a beautiful comment and I thank you for it. I"m so glad so many can relate to this message.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on August 03, 2018:

My pleasure, Bill! Thank you, sir!

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on August 03, 2018:

That's a full-time job, Clive! Carry on!

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on August 03, 2018:

I have known people like that, Meg,and I find it very sad. Thank you!

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on August 03, 2018:

True words, Jackie...great freedom in giving up. :) Thank you!

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on August 03, 2018:

It is liberating,is it not, Sean? Thank you for sharing that and for the very kind words.

Peace my friend

bill

breakfastpop on August 03, 2018:

There are many things I'll never be, but most of the time I am content just being me. Of course, I admit there are times when I want to say, "I coulda been a contender."

Rajan Singh Jolly from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar, INDIA. on August 03, 2018:

I have always believed one should do things to the best of one's ability. That should be good enough. No need to stress being the best, the emphasis should be on giving the best. There is always someone who is better than you.

threekeys on August 02, 2018:

A very warm grounded and inspirational read Bill.Making yourself vulnerable is both beautiful and frightening. But by writing in the way you have opens the gates to our heart and welcomes you inside.

Linda Crampton from British Columbia, Canada on August 02, 2018:

The story of Wade LeBlanc is interesting. Thanks for creating an inspirational article, Bill.

John Hansen from Gondwana Land on August 02, 2018:

That Natural is one of my favourite all time movies, Bill, and I thank you for making us aware of Wade LeBlanc as well. This was inspirational and a wonderful read. We can all strive to be called “the best” but usually have to be happy to be the “best that we could be.”

Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on August 02, 2018:

If we do our best that should be good enough. It is nice to have dreams but often those do not happen. We should all learn to be content with what we have and enjoy each day as it comes. Life is a gift and so are friendships and love...things that cannot be measured.

Natalie Frank from Chicago, IL on August 02, 2018:

While there are things you would realistically want to strive to be the best at - sports, ballet, art etc. the idea of being good enough is important especially for the technological age when things are moving faster and faster and we are expected to do more and more. I remember at a job when my manager called me a perfectionist. I thought it was a good thing, doing something to absolute best of my ability, but she meant it as a criticism. Even though I wasn't putting excess time into the tasks, or taking away from the ability to complete other tasks, there was a mentality of doing just enough to fulfill whatever the minimal expectation was. If you needed to sign up 5 people, there's no need to sign up 6 even though that would provide a buffer if one of the others dropped out, if you needed to just answer a series of questions in a yes or no manner you don't need to add any explanation even if it would clarify matters. You don't put in any extra effort other that what is specifically required unless or until there is a problem, a question or a new expectation you have personally been informed of. I remember being distressed by this and had a tough time on the job as I was never able to "cut corners" another main criteria for how tasks were to be performed, and eventually that mentality, which bled into all kinds of other areas, led me to quit and go elsewhere. While I don't think your main goal should be to do the bare minimum just to get by, learning when extra effort is warranted and when it doesn't really add anything of value is an important distinction when we have limited time to do everything we have to. Thanks for an interesting article and for getting me to think about things slightly differently.

William Leverne Smith from Hollister, MO on August 02, 2018:

Good article. Worthy of thought and consideration. Thanks for sharing!! ;-)

Clive Williams from Jamaica on August 02, 2018:

I just live.

DreamerMeg from Northern Ireland on August 02, 2018:

Good enough is a VERY important concept or realistion for those who are perfectionists. They get nothing done because it will never meet their standards. They refuse to try or practice because everything has ti be perfect first time round! I know a few of them. Those who are willing to do something that is good enough get far more done!

Jackie Lynnley from the beautiful south on August 02, 2018:

Ah, sometimes we just get tired of trying to be better than we can be. Then it feels nice to give up! lol No pressure and life is much better all round.

Ioannis Arvanitis from Greece, Almyros on August 02, 2018:

Some years ago I understood that I will never be the best at anything. It was so liberating because I realized that if I just tried to be the best Sean I could be, it will be good enough! That's my motto:

"Do the best you can, and that is good enough to be happy!"

Thank you for this enlightening and helpful Hub, my Brother, Bill!

And from a teacher to another, I believe that some of your students still say: "Bill Holland was the greatest teacher I had!"

...that's good enough!

Much Love!

Sean

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on August 02, 2018:

it is my pleasure, Alison! Thanks for reading and commenting.

Alison Monroe on August 02, 2018:

Thanks for writing this!

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on August 02, 2018:

Beautiful thoughts whonu....I love the "never give up" philosophy, one I, too, embrace. Thank you my friend.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on August 02, 2018:

You being you, Bill, is good enough for me. :) Thanks for weighing in, my friend.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on August 02, 2018:

You said a mouthful there, Mary, a dark side to the American Dream. I cringe when I hear those words, the American Dream. I'm not even sure the actuality of that Dream exists.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on August 02, 2018:

Aww, thanks Linda! Delicate little snowflakes? I love that line and oh so true! I'll be chuckling about that line the rest of the day.

whonunuwho from United States on August 02, 2018:

Hey Bill. I can identify. That photo of you was a lot like my own. I was a pitcher in the leagues and won a trophy for trying to be the best, at the age of twelve. Then my future in sports took a downward turn after breaking a leg and my spine in football. I still did not let this defeat me and my hopes for the future. I kept trying. I later became a teacher and earned four college degrees, because I would never give up. The human spirit can be that inside of us which helps us achieve. That is my testament, never give in, keep on trying. Being good enough, in my mind is giving it all I've got, then let chips fall where they may. My friend, blessings to you and family.. whonu

Bill De Giulio from Massachusetts on August 02, 2018:

What a great message Bill. It took me a lifetime to accept that good enough was good enough for me. I've always had very high expectations for myself, and this inevitably leads to disappointment. I know now that I am good enough at what I do and how I lead my life to be comfortable with who I am. I will never be the best or greatest at anything but being me.

Mary Wickison from Brazil on August 02, 2018:

I think a big part of wanting to be the best is part of the American dream. After living most of my adult life abroad, I am only just now finding I don't have to be 'the best'. It was deeply rooted in my makeup to try. When I was unable to be or do what I had hoped for, that was a big let down.

There is a dark side to the American dream.

Another thought provoking article.

Linda Lum from Washington State, USA on August 02, 2018:

Bill, what a sweet message. We do our children a disservice when we tell them that they are the best. (We are raising a generation of delicate little snowflakes).

If everyone and everything is perfect, then perfection ceases to exist. We can't all be "best" (actually none of us can), but as Zulma said, being good enough is not failure. The only failure comes in not trying at all.

You are the best "you" that I've ever met.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on August 02, 2018:

Sis, you have a zip code all your own when that family gets together. My goodness you done good, Sis....proud of you always. You are more than a survivor; you take adversity, spit in its eye,and excel because of it....yep, damned proud to be your Bro!

love,

bill

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on August 02, 2018:

Thank you Zulma! I do believe this is an important lesson to be learned, the sooner the better. It is so important for self-worth to know you are perfect just the way you are....well, perfect might be pushing it a bit. lol

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on August 02, 2018:

I'm so glad this resonated with you, Janine. I'm sure your daughters think you are "good enough."

Suzie from Carson City on August 02, 2018:

Wow bill-bro....I can tell you that you hit a home run with this article! The thoughts that ran through this ole head of mine? Because I love my sons so madly, I have always been very hard on myself as a mother. The whole time I hustled to make all the right decisions, say all the right things, give my all~ the BEST of my all, I truly never thought it was "good enough." I would be so critical of myself it was pitiful.

Alas, my eldest is now 50 (DAMN, I'm OLD!!) and my so-called "baby" is 36, with 2 in-the-middle.....they've lavished me with 12 grandchildren, who have graced me w/ 2 great-grandbabies....Whoa....that's a whole classroom full. And the whole lot of them, show me love, concern & respect at all times. I don't need a brick wall to collapse on my head to know that I am "good enough"....for sure. Can this entire beautiful gang of mine be wrong??! NO way!

So, by taking inventory around here and a good, hard look at the results, I finally stopped thinking I should have been bigger, better, faster, smarter & stronger. "Good enough" is fine by me!!

Thank you for the inspiration and words of encouragement. You're the BESTEST "good enough" there is! Sis

Zulma Burgos-Dudgeon from United Kingdom on August 02, 2018:

Even if you do reach the dizzying heights of being the best at whatever you set your sights on, it's temporary. Babe Ruth was the undisputed home run king until Hank Aaron came along who in turn was pushed out by Barry Bonds. No matter how good you think you are, somebody else is going to be better. It's just the way it is.

Should that stop you from trying, no, of course not. I believe it's the trying that helps you become good enough. Maybe parents, teachers and society, in general, should let the kids know that being good enough is not a mark of failure.

Great hub, Bill. An important lesson to be learned.

Janine Huldie from New York, New York on August 02, 2018:

What a perfect sentiment and love this so much, Bill. Honestly, needed to read this as many days I do strive to be good enough. But love the reminder that we are just who were are and that should most definitely be enough. Happy Thursday now :)

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on August 02, 2018:

We all need it from time to time, Eric. Being the youngest of six would have been quite an education...and yet you survived!!!!

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on August 02, 2018:

Shannon, it could be for sure, but the good news is you still look like a teenager. :) Thank you for the kind words.

Eric Dierker from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A. on August 02, 2018:

My not good enough comes from my futile effort to be as good as....

Youngest of 6 I felt a need to be as good as my siblings -- and that was really dumb, what the heck they were older than me. I really like to think about the gazillion snowflakes. Each perfectly different. Thanks for the uplift - I think I needed it.

Shannon Henry from Texas on August 02, 2018:

I love the way you deliver a message. Just as I've said that I can see your mailbag syndicated, so can I see these inspirational messages of yours. I can most definitely relate to this one. Could it be that I am in my 30s and yet another birthday sneaking up on me in just a week or so? Haha

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on August 02, 2018:

True words, Flourish! Thank you!

FlourishAnyway from USA on August 02, 2018:

You can be the best you though. Give it your all and nothing less.

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